Journal of Engineering and Technology ManagementDue to problems with the CFP, I was torn about whether or not to publicize it.
Leveraging User Innovation: Managing the Creative Potential of Individual Consumers
Submission 1st February 2014
Marcel Bogers, University of Southern Denmark
Ian P. McCarthy, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Leyland Pitt, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Users have long been identified as important sources of innovation (von Hippel, 1976; Lettl, 2007; Gales and Mansour-Cole, 1995). Research has focused on both intermediate users (e.g., user firms or B2B) and final consumer users (e.g., end users/communities or B2C) as sources of innovative products and services (Bogers et al., 2010). This special issue focuses on the different types of individuals or groups of individuals who undertake user innovation to produce new products and services (Berthon et al., 2007).
Recent research has highlighted the innovation potential of individual consumers who, in the UK, spend more time and money on innovation than all UK consumer product firms combined (von Hippel et al., 2012). Also, with the growing interest in open innovation (Chesbrough, 2003; Chesbrough et al., 2006), an increasing number of mechanisms, such as crowdsourcing (Poetz and Schreier, 2012) and social media (Kietzmann et al., 2011), exist to harness this potential. Such trends have major implications for innovation management education (Horwitch and Stohr, 2012) and thus offer numerous opportunities for interesting scholarly inquiry (see: West and Bogers, forthcoming).
After doing a book chapter comparing UI to OI, this lists of topics seems much more about open innovation than about user innovation. Yes, von Hippel noted almost 40 years ago (in his first Research Policy article) about the importance of users as a source of ideas. And yes, crowdsourcing has attracted interest from both UI and OI scholars. But nowadays, UI (e.g. von Hippel, 2005; Baldwin & von Hippel, 2010) has been about empowering users to elaborate and disseminate their ideas — to address their own particularistic needs — not help “producers” continue a paradigm that deserves to be relegated to the ash heap of history.
Instead — Poetz & Schreier (2012) notwithstanding — the literature on harnessing the ideas of individuals to help firms has moved decisively into the OI camp. In part, it’s because of the inherently firm-centric nature of OI. But it’s also because many of the contributions (think Innocentive, or even Threadless) are from individuals who have insights beyond their own personal use benefits — which means they’re not user-innovators (in the traditional von Hippel sense) but they are individual-level external innovators (in the Chesbrough sense). I have sometimes seen UI explained as a subset of OI (not strictly true), but never have I seen OI claimed to be a subset of UI.
So given the topics, the editors want papers on open innovation, but say their special issue about user innovation.
Why the erroneous classification? Of the special issue editors, one is a well-cited UI scholar who recently has dabbled in OI. The other two editors don’t seem to have published on either topic.
Since I’ve publicized flawed CFPs before, I decided there was a precedent for both mentioning and correcting a CFP. (Of course, I realize this blog has readers who are more loyal to the UI “camp” than the OI “camp”.)
Still, the way to fix this would be for authors to submit papers that combine what UI tells us about generating ideas from “sticky information” with the OI “new paradigm” of how corporations utilize external information. Best case, maybe the guest editors would learn a thing or two about open innovation and not make the same mistake again.