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Free Innovation

Narrated by: Tom Parks
Length: 5 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this book, Eric von Hippel, author of the influential Democratizing Innovation, integrates new theory and research findings into the framework of a "free innovation paradigm." Free innovation, as he defines it, involves innovations developed by consumers who are self-rewarded for their efforts, and who give their designs away "for free." It is an inherently simple grassroots innovation process, unencumbered by compensated transactions and intellectual property rights.

Free innovation is already widespread in national economies and is steadily increasing in both scale and scope. Today, tens of millions of consumers are collectively spending tens of billions of dollars annually on innovation development. However, because free innovations are developed during consumers' unpaid, discretionary time and are given away rather than sold, their collective impact and value have until very recently been hidden from view. This has caused researchers, governments, and firms to focus too much on the Schumpeterian idea of innovation as a producer-dominated activity.

Free innovation has both advantages and drawbacks. Because free innovators are self-rewarded by such factors as personal utility, learning, and fun, they often pioneer new areas before producers see commercial potential. At the same time, because they give away their innovations, free innovators generally have very little incentive to invest in diffusing what they create, which reduces the social value of their efforts.

The best solution, von Hippel and his colleagues argue, is a division of labor between free innovators and producers, enabling each to do what they do best. The result will be both increased producer profits and increased social welfare - a gain for all.

©2016 Eric von Hippel. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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  • 05-31-19

Is panacea too strong a word? I'm not sure...

Free Innovation is such an elegant solution to R&D hurdles, this is a MUST READ. The implication for radical disruption by anything lead users are led to focus their attention on is simply astounding. Dr. von Hippel makes an impressively concise argument for what (to me) sounds like an innovation and technology management "theory of everything."

If we provide potential innovators with all the tools they need PLUS the design they want, the emergent collective powers + intrinsic motivation can unbridle problem solving capabilities. Mass innovation + industry standardization benefit everyone and propel truly democratized progress. It gives people A. what they truly wanted (since they collectively participated in exploring the solution space) and B. the refinement needed plus market availability. Designing engaging user innovation toolkits is clearly the solution to outsourcing efforts of any imaginable kind, so I am excited to see what organizations do with that!