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Welfare Implications of User Innovation

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  • Henkel, Joachim
  • von Hippel, Eric

Abstract

The literature on new goods and social welfare generally assumes that manufacturers develop innovations. But innovation by users has been found to also be an important part of innovative activity in the economy. In this Paper we explore the impact of users as a source of innovation on product diversity, innovation, and welfare. We examine the impact of user innovation on inefficiencies that bias the provision of new goods, and find that most are either alleviated or non-existent for user innovation. There are three major reasons for this. First, user innovations tend to complement manufacturer innovations, filling small niches of high need left open by commercial sellers. Second, user innovation helps to reduce information asymmetries between manufacturers and users. Third, user innovations are more likely to be freely revealed than manufacturer innovations. We conclude that, compared to a counterfactual world without such innovation, social welfare is most likely to be increased by the presence of user innovation. We derive implications for policy-makers and managers.

Suggested Citation

  • Henkel, Joachim & von Hippel, Eric, 2003. "Welfare Implications of User Innovation," CEPR Discussion Papers 4063, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4063
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    2. David, Paul A. & Shapiro, Joseph S., 2008. "Community-based production of open-source software: What do we know about the developers who participate?," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 364-398, December.
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    4. Svensson, Peter O. & Hartmann, Rasmus Koss, 2018. "Policies to promote user innovation: Makerspaces and clinician innovation in Swedish hospitals," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 277-288.
    5. Jordan Robert Gamble & Michael Brennan & Rodney Mcadam, 2016. "A Contemporary And Systematic Literature Review Of User-Centric Innovation: A Consumer Perspective," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 20(01), pages 1-45, January.
    6. Alireza Javanmardi Kashan & Kavoos Mohannak & Mirko Perano & Gian Luca Casali, 2018. "A Discovery of Multiple Levels of Open Innovation in Understanding the Economic Sustainability. A Case Study in the Manufacturing Industry," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(12), pages 1-21, December.
    7. Du, Jingshu & Leten, Bart & Vanhaverbeke, Wim, 2014. "Managing open innovation projects with science-based and market-based partners," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 828-840.
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    9. Jeroen de Jong, 2014. "The Emperical Scope of User Innovation," Scales Research Reports H201403, EIM Business and Policy Research.
    10. Corral de Zubielqui, Graciela & Fryges, Helmut & Jones, Janice, 2019. "Social media, open innovation & HRM: Implications for performance," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 334-347.
    11. Pier Patrucco, 2008. "The economics of collective knowledge and technological communication," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 33(6), pages 579-599, December.
    12. Stephen M. Maurer & Suzanne Scotchmer, 2006. "Open Source Software: The New Intellectual Property Paradigm," NBER Working Papers 12148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. von Hippel, Eric, 2010. "Open User Innovation," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 411-427, Elsevier.
    14. Nicolai J. Foss & Keld Laursen & Torben Pedersen, 2011. "Linking Customer Interaction and Innovation: The Mediating Role of New Organizational Practices," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(4), pages 980-999, August.
    15. Kleer, Robin & Piller, Frank T., 2019. "Local manufacturing and structural shifts in competition: Market dynamics of additive manufacturing," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 216(C), pages 23-34.
    16. Tietze, Frank & Pieper, Thorsten & Herstatt, Cornelius, 2013. "To own or not to own: How ownership affects user innovation - An empirical study in the German rowing community," Working Papers 73, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management.
    17. Lars Bo Jeppesen & Lars Frederiksen, 2006. "Why Do Users Contribute to Firm-Hosted User Communities? The Case of Computer-Controlled Music Instruments," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(1), pages 45-63, February.
    18. Zhang, De-Peng & Yang, Chen-hui & Zhang, Feng-Hua, 2014. "Analysis of the equity preference influence in customer participation incentives," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 1-8.
    19. Henkel, Joachim, 2006. "Selective revealing in open innovation processes: The case of embedded Linux," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 953-969, September.
    20. Carolin Eckinger & M.W.J.L. Sanders, 2019. "User Innovation and Business Incubation," Working Papers 19-16, Utrecht School of Economics.
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    22. Jeroen P.J. de Jong & Eric von Hippel, 2013. "User innovation: business and consumers," Chapters, in: Fred Gault (ed.), Handbook of Innovation Indicators and Measurement, chapter 5, pages 109-132, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    23. Jeroen de Jong & Eric von Hippel, 2010. "Open, distributed and user-centered: Towards a paradigm shift in innovation policy," Scales Research Reports H201009, EIM Business and Policy Research.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    inefficiencies; product diversity; social welfare; user innovation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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