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Harnessing the hackers: The emergence and exploitation of Outlaw Innovation

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  • Flowers, Stephen

Abstract

This paper will explore how the often illegal activities of hackers (employed in the original usage of the term to refer to individuals who modify computer hardware and software) may produce valuable innovations. The paper argues that structural changes, including a growth in the number of knowledge workers, has resulted in a burgeoning community of users able to modify or hack existing products, or develop products that compete with existing suppliers. The paper will introduce the complementary concepts of Outlaw Innovation and the Outlaw User, locating them within the literature on users. The paper will explore how firms react to this activity and provide case studies of this phenomenon. The paper will argue that Outlaw Innovation represents an extension in our understanding of the way in which firms interact with users, presents a series of policy challenges, and opens a promising area for further research. A series of possible research questions will be outlined and the paper will conclude by indicating the next steps in the development of this line of enquiry.

Suggested Citation

  • Flowers, Stephen, 2008. "Harnessing the hackers: The emergence and exploitation of Outlaw Innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 177-193, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:37:y:2008:i:2:p:177-193
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alessandro Nuvolari, 2004. "Collective invention during the British Industrial Revolution: the case of the Cornish pumping engine," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(3), pages 347-363, May.
    2. Rothwell, R. & Freeman, C. & Horsley, A. & Jervis, V. T. P. & Robertson, A. B. & Townsend, J., 1993. "SAPPHO updated -- project SAPPHO phase II," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 110-110, April.
    3. David J. TEECE, 2008. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 5, pages 67-87 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. 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.
    5. Tang, Puay, 2005. "Digital copyright and the "new" controversy: Is the law moulding technology and innovation?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 852-871, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:cog:meanco:v:5:y:2017:i:3:p:5-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Dolata, Ulrich, 2017. "Technological innovations and the transformation of economic sectors: A concise overview of issues and concepts," Research Contributions to Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies, SOI Discussion Papers 2018-01, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Social Sciences, Department of Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies.
    3. repec:wsi:ijimxx:v:12:y:2008:i:03:n:s1363919608002084 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Dolata, Ulrich, 2014. "Märkte und Macht der Internetkonzerne: Konzentration - Konkurrenz - Innovationsstrategien," Research Contributions to Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies, SOI Discussion Papers 2014-04, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Social Sciences, Department of Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies.
    5. Celine Schulz & Stefan Wagner, 2010. "Outlaw Community Innovations," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Perspectives On User Innovation, chapter 8, pages 191-210 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    6. Dolata, Ulrich, 2009. "Technological innovations and sectoral change: Transformative capacity, adaptability, patterns of change: An analytical framework," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1066-1076, July.
    7. Dolata, Ulrich & Schrape, Jan Felix, 2014. "Masses, crowds, communities, movements: Collective formations in the digital age," Research Contributions to Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies, SOI Discussion Papers 2014-02, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Social Sciences, Department of Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies.
    8. Dolata, Ulrich, 2011. "Radical change as gradual transformation: Characteristics and variants of socio-technical transitions," Research Contributions to Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies, SOI Discussion Papers 2011-03, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Social Sciences, Department of Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies.

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