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Presentation: Community-Based Innovation: From Sports Equipment to Software

by Abel Avram on Mar 07, 2009 |

In this presentation recorded during OOPSLA 2008, Sonali K. Shah talks about innovations produced by community users. Contrary to the general perception, most innovations are not created by firms but by individuals. Shah offers the details of a study of innovations in sports equipments and also talks about open source and gated community innovations in software.

Watch: Community-Based Innovation: From Sports Equipment to Software (1h 7min.)

The community-based innovation model is based on “voluntaries and collaborative efforts of users”. It is not built on exclusive property rights nor hierarchical control. Open source model is “perhaps the most prominent example of the community based model.” It’s been very known in the software communities, but it is also present in sports, automobile industries, personal computers.

Across the three industries mentioned, users hold 60% of all innovations, while manufacturers hold 25%. The rest of 15% is shared between users and manufacturers working together or, for example, professional athletes which were not considered the average user for this study, and consequently are classified separately. Those figures show that users have had a much greater role in innovating than they are usually credited for.

Shah presents the history of windsurfing from first innovation to manufacturing a product, an example of community-based innovation started for pure fun and developed later into an industry.

Shah also talks about software  innovations in open source vs. gated communities. The most prominent reason why volunteers choose to work for a project is “fun and challenge”, but gated community users are not so interested in investing their time and energy into a product they have no real control of.

To complete the session, Shah talks about business models that might take innovations and create products out of them. She talks about physical products (sports, automobile, early PCs) and virtual ones (Linux/Red Hat, Eclipse/IBM).

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