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Open Source Projects as Horizontal Innovation Networks - By and for users

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  • von Hippel, Eric

Abstract

Innovation development, production, distribution and consumption networks can be built up horizontally Â€Ó with actors consisting only of innovation users (more precisely, "user/self-manufacturers"). "Free" and "open source" software projects are examples of such networks, and examples can be found in the case of physical products as well. User innovation networks can function entirely independently of manufacturers when (1) at least some users have sufficient incentive to innovate, (2) at least some users have an incentive to voluntarily reveal their innovations, and (3) diffusion of innovations by users is low cost and can compete with commercial production and distribution. When only the first two conditions hold, a pattern of user innovation and trial and improvement will occur within user networks, followed by commercial manufacturer and distribution of innovations that prove to be of general interest. In this paper we explore the empirical evidence related to each of these matters and conclude that conditions favorable to user innovation networks are often present in the economy

Suggested Citation

  • von Hippel, Eric, 2003. "Open Source Projects as Horizontal Innovation Networks - By and for users," Working papers 4366-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:1827
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/1827
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Some Simple Economics of Open," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 197-234, June.
    2. von Hippel, Eric, 1976. "The dominant role of users in the scientific instrument innovation process," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 212-239, July.
    3. Vanderwerf, Pieter A., 1990. "Product tying and innovation in U.S. wire preparation equipment," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 83-96, February.
    4. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Glen L. Urban & Eric von Hippel, 1988. "Lead User Analyses for the Development of New Industrial Products," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(5), pages 569-582, May.
    6. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
    7. Mansfield, Edwin, 1985. "How Rapidly Does New Industrial Technology Leak Out?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 217-223, December.
    8. 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.
    9. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3, Specia), pages 783-832.
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