Why are some independent inventors 'heroes' and others 'hobbyists'? The moderating role of technological diversity and specialization
AbstractDespite a substantial body of research investigating the market significance of inventions by independent inventors, relatively little attention has been devoted to understanding their technological significance. A recent study conducted by [Dahlin, K., Taylor, M., Fichman, M., 2004. Today's Edisons or weekend hobbyists: technical impact and success of inventions by independent inventors. Res. Policy 33, 1167-1183] on the tennis racket industry shows that independent inventors are a heterogeneous group which includes both "heroes" who contribute substantially to technological progress and "hobbyists" who make only a marginal contribution. What is not asked - and therefore not explained - is why this distinction arises. In this paper, we focus on the type of prior technological knowledge (in terms of technological specialization and diversity) applied by independent inventors and their corporate counterparts as a factor explaining differences in technological impact. Our empirical setting is the field of medical equipment technology. We find that independent inventors are more sensitive to the negative effects of technological diversity than their corporate counterparts. Furthermore, our study reveals that technological specialization pays off more for independent inventors than for their corporate counterparts. Therefore, those independent inventors who apply low degrees of diversity and high degrees of specialization are capable of reaching the same level as or even outperforming their corporate counterparts, thus becoming "heroes". Based on our findings, we discuss implications for research and corporate practice.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.
Volume (Year): 38 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol
Independent inventor Technological progress Specialization Diversity;
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Marc Gruber & Ian C. MacMillan & James D. Thompson, 2008. "Look Before You Leap: Market Opportunity Identification in Emerging Technology Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(9), pages 1652-1665, September.
- Baldwin, Carliss & Hienerth, Christoph & von Hippel, Eric, 2006. "How user innovations become commercial products: A theoretical investigation and case study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1291-1313, November.
- von Wartburg, Iwan & Teichert, Thorsten & Rost, Katja, 2005. "Inventive progress measured by multi-stage patent citation analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1591-1607, December.
- Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
- Atul Nerkar, 2003. "Old Is Gold? The Value of Temporal Exploration in the Creation of New Knowledge," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(2), pages 211-229, February.
- Gary L. Lilien & Pamela D. Morrison & Kathleen Searls & Mary Sonnack & Eric von Hippel, 2002. "Performance Assessment of the Lead User Idea-Generation Process for New Product Development," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(8), pages 1042-1059, August.
- Riggs, William & von Hippel, Eric, 1994. "Incentives to innovate and the sources of innovation: the case of scientific instruments," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 459-469, July.
- Scott Shane, 2001. "Technological Opportunities and New Firm Creation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(2), pages 205-220, February.
- Melissa A. Schilling & Patricia Vidal & Robert E. Ployhart & Alexandre Marangoni, 2003. "Learning by Doing Something Else: Variation, Relatedness, and the Learning Curve," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 39-56, January.
- Juan Alcácer & Michelle Gittelman, 2006. "Patent Citations as a Measure of Knowledge Flows: The Influence of Examiner Citations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 774-779, November.
- Georg von Krogh & Eric von Hippel, 2006. "The Promise of Research on Open Source Software," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 975-983, July.
- Yar M. Ebadi & James M. Utterback, 1984. "The Effects of Communication on Technological Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(5), pages 572-585, May.
- Eric von Hippel, 1986. "Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product Concepts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(7), pages 791-805, July.
- Jonathon N. Cummings, 2004. "Work Groups, Structural Diversity, and Knowledge Sharing in a Global Organization," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(3), pages 352-364, March.
- Astebro, Thomas B. & Dahlin, Kristina B., 2005. "Opportunity knocks," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 1404-1418, November.
- Iselin, Errol R., 1988. "The effects of information load and information diversity on decision quality in a structured decision task," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 147-164, March.
- Edward P. Lazear, 2004. "Balanced Skills and Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 208-211, May.
- Franke, Nikolaus & Shah, Sonali, 2003. "How communities support innovative activities: an exploration of assistance and sharing among end-users," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 157-178, January.
- Jaffe, Adam B & Trajtenberg, Manuel & Henderson, Rebecca, 1993.
"Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-98, August.
- Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," NBER Working Papers 3993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jaffe, A.B. & Trajtenberg, M., 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," Papers 14-92, Tel Aviv.
- Niclas L. Erhardt & James D. Werbel & Charles B. Shrader, 2003. "Board of Director Diversity and Firm Financial Performance," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(2), pages 102-111, 04.
- Dahlander, Linus & Wallin, Martin W., 2006. "A man on the inside: Unlocking communities as complementary assets," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1243-1259, October.
- Jean O. Lanjouw & Mark Schankerman, 2004. "Patent Quality and Research Productivity: Measuring Innovation with Multiple Indicators," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 441-465, 04.
- Spear, Brian, 2006. "GB innovation since 1950 and the role of the independent inventor: An analysis of completed term patents," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 140-146, June.
- Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson & Adam Jaffe, 1997. "University Versus Corporate Patents: A Window On The Basicness Of Invention," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 19-50.
- Albert, M. B. & Avery, D. & Narin, F. & McAllister, P., 1991. "Direct validation of citation counts as indicators of industrially important patents," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 251-259, June.
- Michelle Gittelman & Bruce Kogut, 2003. "Does Good Science Lead to Valuable Knowledge? Biotechnology Firms and the Evolutionary Logic of Citation Patterns," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(4), pages 366-382, April.
- Christian Terwiesch & Yi Xu, 2008. "Innovation Contests, Open Innovation, and Multiagent Problem Solving," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(9), pages 1529-1543, September.
- Henderson, Rebecca. & Cockburn, Iain., 1994. "Measuring competence? : exploring firm effects in pharmaceutical research," Working papers 3712-94., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
- David A. Carter & Betty J. Simkins & W. Gary Simpson, 2003. "Corporate Governance, Board Diversity, and Firm Value," The Financial Review, Eastern Finance Association, vol. 38(1), pages 33-53, 02.
- Susan M. Adams & Patricia M. Flynn, 2005. "Local Knowledge Advances Women's Access to Corporate Boards," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(6), pages 836-846, November.
- Sorenson, Olav & Fleming, Lee, 2004. "Science and the diffusion of knowledge," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1615-1634, December.
- Pamela D. Morrison & John H. Roberts & Eric von Hippel, 2000. "Determinants of User Innovation and Innovation Sharing in a Local Market," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(12), pages 1513-1527, December.
- Harhoff, Dietmar & Henkel, Joachim & von Hippel, Eric, 2003. "Profiting from voluntary information spillovers: how users benefit by freely revealing their innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1753-1769, December.
- Talke, Katrin & Salomo, Sören & Rost, Katja, 2010. "How top management team diversity affects innovativeness and performance via the strategic choice to focus on innovation fields," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 907-918, September.
- Rost, Katja, 2011. "The strength of strong ties in the creation of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 588-604, May.
- Adams, Pamela & Fontana, Roberto & Malerba, Franco, 2013. "The magnitude of innovation by demand in a sectoral system: The role of industrial users in semiconductors," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-14.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.