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Shifting Innovation to Users via Toolkits

  • Eric von Hippel


    (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139)

  • Ralph Katz


    (304 Hayden Hall, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115)

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    In the traditional new product development process, manufacturers first explore user needs and then develop responsive products. Developing an accurate understanding of a user need is not simple or fast or cheap, however. As a result, the traditional approach is coming under increasing strain as user needs change more rapidly, and as firms increasingly seek to serve "markets of one." Toolkits for user innovation is an emerging alternative approach in which manufacturers actually abandon the attempt to understand user needs in detail in favor of transferring need-related aspects of product and service development to users. Experience in fields where the toolkit approach has been pioneered show custom products being developed much more quickly and at a lower cost. In this paper we explore toolkits for user innovation and explain why and how they work.

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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 48 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 821-833

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:48:y:2002:i:7:p:821-833
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    1. Eric von Hippel, 1994. ""Sticky Information" and the Locus of Problem Solving: Implications for Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(4), pages 429-439, April.
    2. Eric von Hippel, 1998. "Economics of Product Development by Users: The Impact of "Sticky" Local Information," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(5), pages 629-644, May.
    3. Ogawa, Susumu, 1998. "Does sticky information affect the locus of innovation? Evidence from the Japanese convenience-store industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(7-8), pages 777-790, April.
    4. Richard R. Nelson, 1982. "The Role of Knowledge in R&D Efficiency," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(3), pages 453-470.
    5. Stefan H. Thomke, 1998. "Managing Experimentation in the Design of New Products," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(6), pages 743-762, June.
    6. Michael L. Tushman & Ralph Katz, 1980. "External Communication and Project Performance: An Investigation into the Role of Gatekeepers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(11), pages 1071-1085, November.
    7. Richard Nelson, 1962. "Introduction to "The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors"," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 1-16 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. von Hippel, Eric & Tyre, Marcie J., 1995. "How learning by doing is done: problem identification in novel process equipment," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-12, January.
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