6 research outputs found

    The Unexpected Sources of Innovation

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    From increased access to information to a shift in production from material to immaterial goods, recent trends enable citizens to become more active agents of change. Both at their homes and workplaces, citizens are witnessed to be producers of goods, including innovations enabling new functions when compared with the existing goods offered on the (local) market. Examples range from tangible goods, such as new brewing technologies for making craft beers, to intangible goods, like open-source software. In the words of Eric von Hippel (2005): innovation is democratizing. In this thesis, Max Mulhuijzen studies the democratization of innovation. With four studies, he researches the development of innovations by individual citizens and when and how these innovations diffuse. Thereby, Max sheds light on the process of innovation brought about by actors not recognized in the traditional academic literature: the unexpected sources of innovation. The first study unravels the process through which citizens produce household sector (HHS) innovations. In particular, how citizens’ income and discretionary time permit them to develop goods at home and subsequently, how these resources allow citizens to be innovative in their efforts. The main contributions of this chapter to the literature are the more nuanced conceptualization of HHS innovation—Max connects the concept to broader constructs on citizen production behavior (e.g., do-it-yourself)—and the sophisticated model theorizing how resources steer innovation by citizens. In the second study, Max takes a helicopter view of the regional factors enabling citizens to develop and diffuse innovations and develops an ecosystem model. Past studies of HHS innovation are weakly correlated concerning the policies they advise, resulting in only a few changes to policymaking. The ecosystem model presented in this chapter explains how the most significant regional elements may determine levels of HHS innovation, how these elements complement or weaken each other, and provides a valuable toolbox to scholars and policymakers in suggesting HHS innovation policies. The third study focuses on the interactions between innovating citizens and firms. Though the academic literature has counseled firms to open up their boundaries and facilitate innovation by and absorb knowledge from users of their products, few theories to date explain variation in users’ characteristics and how this might explain their innovation outcomes. Max examines quantitatively the case of the Ultimaker 3D printer and its online platform YouMagine—such platforms allow users to share freely the product improvements or additions they developed. He offers new insights into the characteristics of users contributing designs well-received by the user community, guiding firms on which users are likely contributors. The final study included in this dissertation considers how a democratized view of innovation implicates innovation in firms by exploring underground innovation, i.e., the innovations employees initiate and develop without their supervisors or managers knowing. Previous studies have reported such cases but did not provide an in-depth account of employees’ motivations—while these can have implications for the diffusion, hence the visibility of underground innovations. This study contributes such an account and reveals three orientations characterizing employees’ projects developed underground

    The Rich or the Poor?: Personal resources, do-it-yourself, and innovation in the household sector

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    Household sector innovation is significant in scale and scope. Thus far, it has been studied in isolation and with mixed evidence regarding the role of personal resources (consumers' income and discretionary time). We recognize that household sector innovation is embedded in the broader phenomenon of do-it-yourself (DIY) by consumers, as the literature reveals conceptual similarities, parallel motivations, and antecedents. The main distinction is that, whereas DIY goods may replicate existing products, household sector innovation is restricted to goods embodying a novel function. We explore if studying household sector innovation and DIY in an integrated framework helps to resolve previous inconsistent evidence on the role of personal resources. Based on a neoclassical model in which agents optimize their time allocation, we hypothesize that income and discretionary time positively relate to their DIY output, but—given that agents develop DIY goods—we hypothesize that income negatively relates to innovation. For discretionary time, we formulate a research question regarding its effect on innovation which we answer empirically. Our findings suggest that consumers with more personal resources derive more process benefits from DIY but that these benefits crowd out individuals' focus on the function of their objects, hence, the likelihood of developing innovations. Survey data from the United Arab Emirates (n = 2728) confirm our suppositions, showing that the relationship between personal resources and household sector innovation is more refined than suggested by previous studies

    The Unexpected Sources of Innovation

    No full text
    From increased access to information to a shift in production from material to immaterial goods, recent trends enable citizens to become more active agents of change. Both at their homes and workplaces, citizens are witnessed to be producers of goods, including innovations enabling new functions when compared with the existing goods offered on the (local) market. Examples range from tangible goods, such as new brewing technologies for making craft beers, to intangible goods, like open-source software. In the words of Eric von Hippel (2005): innovation is democratizing. In this thesis, Max Mulhuijzen studies the democratization of innovation. With four studies, he researches the development of innovations by individual citizens and when and how these innovations diffuse. Thereby, Max sheds light on the process of innovation brought about by actors not recognized in the traditional academic literature: the unexpected sources of innovation. The first study unravels the process through which citizens produce household sector (HHS) innovations. In particular, how citizens’ income and discretionary time permit them to develop goods at home and subsequently, how these resources allow citizens to be innovative in their efforts. The main contributions of this chapter to the literature are the more nuanced conceptualization of HHS innovation—Max connects the concept to broader constructs on citizen production behavior (e.g., do-it-yourself)—and the sophisticated model theorizing how resources steer innovation by citizens. In the second study, Max takes a helicopter view of the regional factors enabling citizens to develop and diffuse innovations and develops an ecosystem model. Past studies of HHS innovation are weakly correlated concerning the policies they advise, resulting in only a few changes to policymaking. The ecosystem model presented in this chapter explains how the most significant regional elements may determine levels of HHS innovation, how these elements complement or weaken each other, and provides a valuable toolbox to scholars and policymakers in suggesting HHS innovation policies. The third study focuses on the interactions between innovating citizens and firms. Though the academic literature has counseled firms to open up their boundaries and facilitate innovation by and absorb knowledge from users of their products, few theories to date explain variation in users’ characteristics and how this might explain their innovation outcomes. Max examines quantitatively the case of the Ultimaker 3D printer and its online platform YouMagine—such platforms allow users to share freely the product improvements or additions they developed. He offers new insights into the characteristics of users contributing designs well-received by the user community, guiding firms on which users are likely contributors. The final study included in this dissertation considers how a democratized view of innovation implicates innovation in firms by exploring underground innovation, i.e., the innovations employees initiate and develop without their supervisors or managers knowing. Previous studies have reported such cases but did not provide an in-depth account of employees’ motivations—while these can have implications for the diffusion, hence the visibility of underground innovations. This study contributes such an account and reveals three orientations characterizing employees’ projects developed underground

    Diffusion to peers in firm-hosted user innovation communities: Contributions by professional versus amateur users

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    Users can develop innovations that improve or complement a firm's product. To benefit from these, firms may host online user innovation communities (UICs) with two purposes: 1. Incorporate user innovations into the firm's products, and 2. Facilitate the direct diffusion of user innovations to peer users to increase the product's general value. The second of these objectives (antecedents of peer diffusion) is under-investigated. Peer diffusion comes with additional challenges: when the hosting firm's innovation experts (e.g., R&amp;D workers) do not pick up the role of continued development, adoption by peers is frustrated—as many user innovators lack the expertise to improve their initial prototypes so that peers can easily adopt. We address this gap by exploring if contributions by professional external users of the hosting firm's product have better peer diffusion rates compared to those of amateur users. We argue that professionals' expertise in design and marketing enables them to improve their initial prototypes, which peers can adopt more easily. Next, taking an interactionist perspective, we hypothesize that the relationship between professional user status and peer diffusion is amplified by users' commercial motivation and their central position in the UIC's network. We analyze multiple-source data of 614 innovations contributed by 122 users of a firm-hosted UIC in 3D printing. We find that contributions by professionals indeed diffuse better, but only at high commercial motivation or favorable network positions (high closeness centrality). To firm-hosted UICs, professional users are an important asset advancing the free peer diffusion of user innovations without firm interventions and merit attention when designing UICs.</p

    Underground Innovation: Missionary, User and Lifestyle projects

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    Underground innovation has been known to exist already for decades, but its full scope has not yet been mapped. Evidence from unconnected literatures (bootlegging, creative deviance, user innovation, open-source) suggest that multiple types of underground innovation exist, and not always done with organizational benefit as primary driver. We apply a mixed-method approach (interviews, surveys) in the context of a multinational organization concerned with R&D and product development. Three types of underground innovation are identified: missionary (marked by high diffusion persistency to change a company product or practice), user (initiated to solve personal problems at work) and lifestyle (driven by passion for innovation). Comparing these types we detect differences in objects of innovation, involvement of others, employed resources, and diffusion efforts. We discuss that underground innovation includes previously unconnected literatures, and emerges from employees driven by organizational adoption, personal use value, or benefits derived from the innovation process itself
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