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Regular version of the site

User Innovation

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
2 year, 1 module

Course Syllabus


The development of user-driven innovation has been conceptualized by academic research now for quite some time arguing for an idea that users may show remarkable levels of sophistication in adopting or creating new products. This phenomenon has ever since triggered the interest of scholars. Active individuals who are ahead of the market and could be engaged in co-creation of certain goods and services together with firms since then are considered as one of the driving forces of innovation as well as firms aiming at problem-solving that innovate mostly for themselves. Recent contributions enthusiastically have long moved beyond the original demographic studies of user innovation and discuss how users can be motivated and their creative potential be harvested, which tools can be used for successful implementation of innovation, what is the role of amateur or hobbyist communities in innovation generation, etc. The course welcomes all those interested in social studies of innovation, science, technology and innovation studies. The course is delivered to master students of The National Research University – Higher School of Economics/HSE in one module. The course length is 114 academic hours of which 32 hours are classroom hours for lectures and seminars and 82 hours are devoted to self-study. Assessment is based on current work and written task. Academic control includes participation in discussions (seminars) and one short essay. The course contains five core topics, which are mutually exclusive but collectively exhaustive to cover the subject.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Understanding of the importance and connectedness of user-driven innovation for economic and social development.
  • Clarification of basic concepts used in literature to describe user-driven innovation as an economic and social phenomenon.
  • Reflection on key tensions that appear in scientific papers standing for different approaches to conceptualization and analysis of issues related to innovation development and diffusion and engagement of users.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding research terminology
  • Understanding the types of innovation and role of users in generation and dissemination of new ideas and practices
  • Ability to use theory and previous research to create research questions and hypotheses
  • Ability to independently develop a user-innovation study
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Innovation by users and lead users
    Role of individuals and households in innovation development. A manufacture-centered para-digm and the consumer-centered paradigm and their integration. Mere users and lead users Dif-ferences between individuals who successfully carry out innovation projects in the household sector and those who do not. Factors to increase the amount of successful innovation.
  • Innovation Communities and Community Economics
    The efficiency of innovation development by product users and product producers. Collaborative innovation and innovation communities and their role in altering economic landscape. User communities. User communities and peer-to-peer innovation diffusion. Sharing economy. Do it yourself (DIY), open-source software and other community-based movements.
  • Innovation toolkits
    Practical applications and ways to organize and support user-driven innovation. Guidance for users to ensure innovation design and for producers to elaborate integrated circuits to the devel-opment of customized products.
  • Innovation Policy, Innovation Measurement
    Measurement of user innovation and the transfer of user innovations to producers within and be-yond existing statistical frameworks. National surveys on user-driven innovation. Innovation policies and practices needed to support innovation by individual and corporate users.
  • Researching user innovation and practical issues
    Research tools to study user innovation. New methods for dividing up tasks, for experimenting in parallel, and for identifying rare individuals who might have something important to contrib-ute. A practical guide for lead user project teams and its applications.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Written essay
  • non-blocking Colloquium
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (1 module)
    The overall course grade G (10-point scale) is calculated by the formula: G = 0.7 E + 0.3C, includes results achieved by students in their written essay (E) and colloquium (C); it is rounded up to an integer number of points.


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Alexander Brem, Volker Bilgram, & Adele Gutstein. (2018). Involving Lead Users in Innovation: A Structured Summary of Research on the Lead User Method. International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), (03), 1. https://doi.org/10.1142/S0219877018500220
  • Baldwin, C., Hienerth, C., & von Hippel, E. (2006). How user innovations become commercial products: A theoretical investigation and case study. Research Policy, (9), 1291. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.respol.v35y2006i9p1291.1313
  • Gault, F. (2012). User innovation and the market. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.3A336C67
  • Gault, F. (2013). Handbook of Innovation Indicators and Measurement. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=602821
  • Goeldner, M., Kruse, D. J., & Herstatt, C. (2017). Lead user method vs. innovation contest: An empirical comparison of two open innovation methodologies for identifying social innovation for flood Resilience in Indonesia. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.323EF336
  • Hienerth, C., von Hippel, E., & Berg Jensen, M. (2014). User community vs. producer innovation development efficiency: A first empirical study. Research Policy, (1), 190. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.respol.v43y2014i1p190.201
  • Nikolaus Franke. (2003). Satisfying Heterogeneous User Needs via Innovation Toolkits: The Case of Apache Security Software. Research Policy 32. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.A9EE7855
  • Ralph Katz. (2002). Shifting Innovation to Users Via Toolkits. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.AA640A66
  • Stock-Homburg, R. M., Oliveira, P. M. S. M., & von Hippel, E. A. (2017). Impacts of Hedonic and Utilitarian User Motives on the Innovativeness of User-Developed Solutions. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpim.12201
  • von Hippel, E. A. (2016). Free Innovation. United States, North America: MIT Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.606752F7
  • von Hippel, E., Franke, N., & Prügl, R. (2009). Pyramiding: Efficient search for rare subjects. Research Policy, (9), 1397. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.respol.v38y2009i9p1397.1406

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Eric Stevens. (2010). Lead User’s theory adapted to services: Towards Service User’s Toolkit. Post-Print. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.hal.journl.hal.00676683
  • Fred Gault. (2013). The Oslo Manual. Chapters, 41. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.h.elg.eechap.14427.2
  • Füller, J., Schroll, R., & von Hippel, E. (2013). User generated brands and their contribution to the diffusion of user innovations. Research Policy, (6), 1197. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.respol.v42y2013i6p1197.1209
  • Stock, R. M., von Hippel, E., & Gillert, N. L. (2016). Impacts of personality traits on consumer innovation success. Research Policy, (4), 757. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.respol.v45y2016i4p757.769
  • Utilizing the Lead User Method for Promoting Innovation in E-Recuiting. (2009). Hershey. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-60566-304-3.ch015
  • Wienclaw, R. A. (2019). New Product Management. Salem Press Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=ers&AN=89163885