E von Hippel, 2017. Free Innovation. Cambridge MA: MIT Press
In this book I integrate new theory and new research findings into the framework of a “free innovation paradigm.” Free innovation involves innovations developed and given away by consumers as a “free good,” with resulting improvements in social welfare. I explain that free innovation is an inherently simple, transaction-free, grassroots innovation process engaged in by tens of millions of people in the household sector of national economies. Unlike producer innovation, free innovation does not require intellectual property rights to function. Indeed, from the perspective of participants, free innovation is fundamentally not about money – it is about human flourishing.
I spell out the economics of free innovation relative to producer innovation, and its major economic impacts. These are currently not measured and so hidden from view. I also develop and explore major implications of free innovation for innovation theory, policymaking, and practice.