May 31, 2013

Doktor, doktor

At most colleges, this is the time of year for graduations. It’s also when senior scholars who worked hard for their first doctorate are recognized for their work with an honorary doctorate. Both Henry Chesbrough (father of open innovation) and Eric von Hippel (father of user innovation) were recognized recently with an additional doctoral degree.

Hasselt University: Henry Chesbrough

For weeks I’ve been getting invitations from my co-author Wim Vanhaverbeke to come see Henry Chesbrough receive his honorary doctorate at Hasselt University in Belgium, one of three schools where Wim has an appointment. (Wim, Henry and I co-edited a 2006 book on Open Innovation, and are now working on a sequel).


On Tuesday (May 28), Henry was one of seven public figures so honored this year, on the school’s 40th anniversary. As the university website explained:
Prof. dr. Henry Chesbrough (Haas School of Management, University of California, VS) is de geestelijke vader van het concept ‘open innovatie’, dat steeds meer ingang vindt bij bedrijven en kennisinstellingen in de vier hoeken van de wereld. Zijn eredoctoraat is een voordracht van de faculteit Bedrijfseconomische wetenschappen.
Google Translate says this means
Prof. Dr. Henry Chesbrough (Haas School of Management, University of California, USA) is the spiritual father of the concept of 'open innovation', that is gaining acceptance among companies and research institutions in the four corners of the world. His honorary degree is a recommendation of the Faculty of Business Economics.
I would have liked to have attended, but between the cost and travel time it wasn’t practical to visit unless I was already nearby for another purpose (which I wasn’t).

However, for the benefit of the rest of the world, Wim arranged for online webcast of the post-graduation Q&A with Henry. Questions were solicited via email, and the discussion was broadcast live (at 345am PDT) via Google+ (whatever that is). A video recording of the 65 minute Q&A is now available at YouTube.

This could be Henry’s first honorary doctorate, but since his official online CV hasn’t been updated since 2008, it’s hard to tell.

Hamburg University of Technology: Eric von Hippel

On April 10, TUHH awarded an honorary doctorate to Eric von Hippel. As the school’s (English-language) web page put it:
The Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) today awarded an honorary doctorate of economics and social science (Dr. rer. pol. h.c.) to Professor Eric von Hippel, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, U.S. The TUHH awarded the degree in recognition of “his trail-blazing contributions to research on user innovation and his untiring endeavors to assist young scientists on their academic career path,” as the citation put it.

Prof. Hippel, 71, is one of the world’s most renowned academic experts in management and innovation research.
According to his online CV (updated December 2012), this is Eric’s third honorary doctorate, after Ludwig-Maximillians Universität München (2004) and Copenhagen Business School (2007). TUHH says it’s only their sixth honorary doctorate in 35 years.

Apparently this was the big event of the year of the German-speaking innovation community. Several of my friends asked why I wasn’t there, and I’m sure I know at least a dozen people who were listed in attendance.

The website notes that Eric was doctoral supervisor for TUHH PhD students and others have visited MIT to research with him. Speeches on behalf of the honoree were made by Dietmar Harhoff of U. Munich and Cornelius Herstatt and Christian Lüthje of the TUHH.


One thing I had not heard was the full story of his family. Since I’ve studied the MIT EE department, I knew that his late father was once a professor in the department. But the article gave a more complete picture:
Prof. Eric von Hippel comes from a family that has produced many well-known scientists. His father Prof. Arthur R. Hippel held the chair of materials science at the MIT. His mother Dagmar was the daughter of Nobel laureate James Franck. As she was of Jewish extraction the family had to leave Germany in the 1930s. Before it found a new home in Boston, Arthur R. von Hippel worked for several years as a research scientist at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. Eric von Hippel has four siblings. His younger brother holds the chair of Public and International Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, his elder brother was Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon, Arndt von Hippel was a heart surgeon at Anchorage University Hospital, Alaska. His sister is a writer.
Photos: Universiteit Hasselt and Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg

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