This material is an open textbook. The focus of the book is on new product and service development. Specifically, a democratic approach whereby users of products and services are responsible for development, is explored. This is in contrast to the traditional approach in which manufacturers design products and services in isolation without user input. This free online textbook covers a wide variety of topics involving innovation. Topics include: 1 Introduction and Overview 2 Development of Products by Lead Users 3 Why Many Users Want Custom Products 4 Users’ Innovate-or-Buy Decisions 5 Users’ Low-Cost Innovation Niches 6 Why Users Often Freely Reveal Their Innovations 7 Innovation Communities 8 Adapting Policy to User Innovation 9 Democratizing Innovation 10 Application: Searching for Lead User Innovations 11 Application: Toolkits for User Innovation and Custom Design 12 Linking User Innovation to Other Phenomena and Fields.
Type of Material:
This would be a good supplemental text for any Marketing or Management course focused on product and service development. Further, it is a good reference source for those researching in this area.
Internet browsing capabilities and Adobe Acrobat are needed to view the material.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The goal of this book is to explore the democratic approach to product and service development as contrasted with the more traditional approach. The book focuses on the theoretical underpinnings of this approach along with practical implementation tips and application examples. The purpose is to understand how users may innovate or co-create.
Target Student Population:
The material is appropriate for graduate or undergraduate students in courses such as new product innovation, or marketing / management courses, along with executive seminars focused on product and/or service development.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
General understanding of traditional new product innovation process
The textbook is easy to read and provides engaging examples. It appears to accomplish the objectives that it sets out to accomplish and would serve as a nice supplemental or reference book for a course on product and service development. Von Hippel builds on the work on lead-users. The text is complete, well-written, and refers to all relevant, related scholarship.
The book was written in 2005 and might come off as a bit dated because so much has recently occurred in open source and social media movements. Further, the democratic approach to innovation is presented as something ground breaking. However, it is simply the marketing concept in disguise. The narrow focus of the book makes it inappropriate as the main textbook for a class on product and service development.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The text builds concepts progressively. If used as a supplemental textbook, this book should be effective in challenging readers to view product and service development differently.
Students with a full appreciation of the Marketing concept might find this book less eye-opening than those with little to no marketing knowledge. One also might question whether any successful company uses the traditional model anymore. As a stand alone text for a product and service development course, this book is too narrow in scope and would not be effective. The book is not a traditional textbook, it is written more for a general audience (i.e., trade press book). As such, the instructor would need to build assignments and other assessments.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The book is easy to digest and easy to access via the author's website. Users can either view the book one chapter at a time, or view the entire book as one document. The book can be read on screen or saved as a pdf file. The user may also print the book. It is a simple document that appears to be edited and produced in a quality manner.
It is written as an academic document. There is limited visual appeal and no interactivity.
Other Issues and Comments:
This is an open access book. This fact outweighs any minor concerns.
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