User Innovation and Collaborative Innovation
| Dick Langlois |
Two of my favorite scholars, Carliss Baldwin and Eric von Hippel, have bridged the Charles to team up on a joint manifesto pushing their related views on innovation. The paper is subtitled (or is it supertitled?) “Modeling a Paradigm Shift.” Here is the abstract.
In this paper we assess the economic viability of innovation by producers relative to two increasingly important alternative models: Innovations by single user individuals or firms, and open collaborative innovation projects. We analyze the design costs and architectures and communication costs associated with each model. We conclude that innovation by individual users and also open collaborative innovation increasingly compete with — and may displace — producer innovation in many parts of the economy. We argue that a transition from producer innovation to open single user and open collaborative innovation is desirable in terms of social welfare, and so worthy of support by policymakers.
Carliss has always been more willing than I am to make a normative case for modularity, which is the idea underlying the collaborative model. But she does have some analytical arguments to back that up. The “worthy of support by policymakers” part actually turns out to be a healthy argument against present-day political forces in the direction of stronger intellectual property rights. As this blog has noted in the past, these political forces are moving opposite to increased patent skepticism among scholars.