A Multidisciplinary Study on Citizens’ and Professionals’ Innovative Potential

Funded by Emil Aaltonen Foundation, 2011-2014

Project description

For decades it was assumed that advances in technology and innovation arise only from research and development intensive firms or research institutions. Contrary to this still dominant belief, research has shown that a significant share of both industrial and consumer products have been developed or significantly modified by users. Success stories such as Linux, Mozilla, and Wikipedia have added to the high hopes about the potential that user innovation could hold in “democratizing innovation”, enhancing productivity, and empowering citizens in new ways.

The high hopes are, however, only partly based on what research has established about user involvement in innovation to date. The User Innovation Communities project (UIC) asks “How do people construct successful user innovation communities?” and “How to better facilitate the efforts people make in constructing user innovation communities?” Our objective is to produce academically significant contributions that also support practitioners in the field (citizens, commercial and governmental professionals).

The group will use a multi-disciplinary research methodology based on social science, design research, software research instruments, as well as user-type identification techniques developed in economics.

The research builds on a body of the group members’ previous case studies, and extends these with three new complementary cases: user innovation communities and 1) the development of organization-wide packaged software, 2) medical surgery, and 3) social media in energy conservation. The findings of the case studies will be compared in order to address the main aims of the project. Our analyses combine multiple data sources and include both quantitative and qualitative methods to study in depth both work by individuals as well as the networks, communities and organizations where they act.


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