Literature Review


In a sense, hardware is becoming much more like software, up to the point

where you actually fabricate an object. That’s why you are starting

to see open source techniques in hardware. Design is

largely going to shift out from manufacturers

 to the communities.”

Eric von Hippel, MIT Professor

In the last three decades new forms of collaborative innovation have received a lot of attention from scholars as well as from companies that have adapted their business models in light of emerging patterns of innovation. In particular, it is the role of the end-user as a source of innovation of products and services that is at the centre of academic studies[1]. Moreover, user participation along with the spread of web tools, has contributed to the promotion of the Open Source (OS) movement which is mainly investigated theoretically in the software context. As a matter of fact, relatively small amount of literature has been dedicated to how OS works in the hardware context and how this phenomenon encourages users to not only innovate, but also how to exploit business opportunities by commercializing innovations.

Therefore, an overview of these main streams of theories: User Innovation, User Entrepreneurship, Open Source Software (OSS) and Open Source Hardware (OSH) will be depicted in the following paragraphs. Thus it will be possible to compare these pillars of the process of innovation with the results of the study about User Entrepreneurship in OSH.

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