THE DOMINANT ROLE OF "LOCAL" INFORMATION IN USER INNOVATION: THE CASE OF MOUNTAIN BIKING
Author(s)Luthje, Christian; Herstatt, Cornelius; von Hippel, Eric A.
In a study of innovations developed by mountain bikers, we find that user-innovators almost always utilize "local" information - information already in their possession or generated by themselves - to assess the need for and to develop solutions for their innovations. We argue that this finding fits the economic incentives operating on users. Local need information is the most relevant to user-innovators, since the bulk of their innovation-related rewards typically come from in-house use. Local solution information that is already "in stock" is preferred because it can be applied to innovation-related problem-solving at a relatively low cost. Our findings suggest that innovation development is distributed among users in an economical way: user-innovations tend to be developed by "low-cost providers." It also suggests that the likely function and solution type employed in most user innovations can be predicted on the basis of preexisting user activity patterns and stocks of solution-related information. This in turn opens the way to new methods for efficiently screening user populations for the presence of innovations of any specified type
MIT Sloan School of Management Working Paper;4377-02
User Innovation, Local Information, Mountain Biking