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on April 9, 2005
This is a wonderful book beyond the typical managerial how-to-do checklists. This is the reason why I recommend this book especially to managers and practitioners (innovation management researchers will read the book anyway as Eric von Hippel is one of the leading scholars in this field). Managers may find the book, on a first glance, academic, full with tables, numbers and references. But von Hippel is driven throughout his book by the motivation to present not only a fascinating new idea, but to show that this idea is already a reality and that there is empirical evidence that his concepts provide value for companies and customers. This is the main difference to other books in the area which present various fuzzy weak signals but no proof.

Von Hippel's book goes also beyond the open innovation idea of Chesbrough and others as mentioned by the first reviewer. Chesbrough names a lot of important actors in the innovation process, but neglects the - in my opinion - most important one: the customer or user of the innovation. Von Hippel starts exactly here. His approach is focused on the role of users and customers for the innovation process. In this regard, he builds on his earlier word of the 1970s and 1980s, but has a new story to tell: that user innovation is not only changing the corporate innovation process but also the nature of value creation: If manufacturing is outsourced to Asia, and users take over innovation (and perform this process superior to internal innovation processes), what is left for the corporation?
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on May 5, 2005
The book comprises an outstanding publication in the field of innovation management. It has the potential of becoming the central textbook in the field of user-centered innovation which is an increasingly important research area.

The objective of this book is to provide a state-of-the-art overview of research in the field of user innovation. Also, it aims to show how the different (so far more or less isolated) aspects are related. These are ambitious goals.

From my perspective, the manuscript fully meets them. It offers a profound, concise and easy to read overview of the research done in the past decade. Its outstanding quality is that it manages to relate different aspects in an innovative way and shows the rationale of the research field. It delivers new insights even to a researcher active in this field for some years now.

The book it interesting for a broad audience. It is stimulating even for a specialist in this field. But of course, the main audience is much broader. It should be of interest for scholars and students in the fields of innovation management, new product development, market research, economics and other. It will be of interest also for practitioners and policy makers in the corresponding areas.

I really like the many easy-to-understand examples and its conciseness. One does not necessarily have to have an understanding of the research field before in order to learn from the book (and enjoy it!).
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on March 18, 2005
I have been for most of my working career a "practitioner," that is someone in business struggling to out-innovate current or future competition. Von Hipple's earlier book, "The Sources of Innovation," back in 1988, was a pathfinding work and got many of us to look more closely at "lead custoners and users" for new ideas and innovations. They were a great source!

In recent years, a new concept, "open market innovation," has helped many of us go beyond our corporate walls to the outside world for new ideas and innovations in designated fields, primarily using the Internet to help cast our net widely.

Proctor & Gamble, for example, help to pioneer this concept, starting in 2000. In 2003, Henry Chesbrough's book, "Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology," went into some detail telling us how to use the concept to improve the flow of worthwhile ideas. His book was followed by C. K. Prahalad, Venkat Ramaswamy's work,

"The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers.

Yet, for some reason von Hipple makes no mention of the Open Market Innovation concept to help cast a net to early adopters and way, way beyond. I wonder why? Certainly, he's not that far out of touch.

But more fundamentally, von Hipple's book is too academic - perhaps written more for an academic audience than practitioners who should be interested in applying his ideas in practice. Perhaps his editor was asleep, or couldn't quite figure out what he was trying to say.

In spite of this drawback, I recomment his book. Perhaps senior executives will give a copy to a junior worker and ask him/her to translate it and recommend what their company should do.

Sam Felton
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on March 28, 2006
This book is a great read, especially for someone who has not been taught about user innovation and who questions the open source business model. Von Hippel is a pioneer when it comes to user innovation. If you thought that companies come up with winning ideas, or that the only way to make any money on a great idea is to patent it then this book will open your eyes to a much greater world. The concepts of free revealing (vs. IP) and of lead user (vs. manufacturer) innovation are great. It goes deeping into the idea that information is sticky and cannot be communicated from users to engineers very easily, even in consumer focus groups. Also discussed is the opportunity to create a toolkit to allow users to do the development work for you. This book is truly outstanding.
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This book's first chapter justifies how "end users," which is you and I, have a moral and economic right to adapt commercial products for private use. Though conventional business wisdom demands innovation from "lead users," which is manufacturers, while end users consume, this ignores users' heterogeneous needs. Only writers and artists benefit from intellectual property controls; commerce is impeded. If the author stopped there, this would be an informative book.

But instead of stopping at this satisfactorily instructive business philosophy, Eric von Hippel vanishes into inscrutable swaths of higher math, static language, and slow-moving refutation that squanders his great early energy. His wordy later chapters aim to validate his introductory philosophy, replete with immobile prose translations of advanced calculus and protracted business terminology. After persuading me of his thesis, he proceeds to bore me into agreeing with the other side.

Perhaps this book will energize business professors and patent attorneys to amend the received wisdom. But I can't imagine this book being very useful to people who actually manufacture anything or conduct business. Maybe I ought to utilize von Hippel's pro-innovation philosophy to write a book that actual business people and R&D pioneers can apply to their own work. Because this stultifying, immobile discursion will only bore them into submission.
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on December 12, 2010
The concept behind this book is exciting. The first few chapters were well worth the read. Then it felt like a diet book where it is making the same point again and again to prove there is something behind the theory.

What this book is: A good description as to how the customer/innovator symbiotic relationship propels inovation.

What this book isn't: I just didn't need to be as long as it is. The point could have been made in 2/3s of the length. The repetition made it a far more academic book than the other writing style.

This book is one of those where it is worth reading the first third to half and then the final chapter. It is worth reading, but not every page.

Neil
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on May 8, 2012
Brian Moore's review was made as part of a critical review assignment for the Spring 2012 Economics of Technology seminar at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, taught by Art Diamond. (The course syllabus stated that part of the critical review assignment consisted of the making of a video recording of the review, and the posting of the review to Amazon.)
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on August 7, 2015
the author seems not to realize that the top down dominance over innovation he describes is attributable to attempts to control market forces; that the drmocratized innovation he bemoans the lack of could be cultivated best by liberating markets, unshackling the invisible hand to work through individuals unhindered by by regulatory machinations. paradoxically he calls for more of the status quo; no matter how well intentioned, the only possible outcome of centrally planned policies is a centralized stifling of the decentralized innovation that would otherwise occur quite naturally. this irrational oversight distracts from the mostly cogent underlying recognition that something about hierarchical relations has been inverted to the detriment of innovation. free the market and give average people a chance! that should be the call to peace heard the loudest.
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on July 28, 2005
Von Hippel has done an excellent job with this new work. I downloaded the pdf, read the first chapter and had to buy the book to read the remaining chapters. He has introduced many new subjects into the field of innovation and I'm sure this will be a book I will reference time and again. His writing style also made this an easy and enjoyable book to read at leisure. Well done.
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on August 20, 2007
A rather academic approach on the subject leave the reading in some sections somehow difficult for those not use to technicalities of the researcher, but a very well written book overall. The book clearly identifies a path on the future trend on mass collaboration and how this will affect us in many ways. How our personal live and businesses will effected by this is already on the making, what we can do is to better understand it. This book does that.

I strongly suggest reading it for those interested in what the future will look like. The book pair off with
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
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