How communities support innovative activities: An exploration of assistance and sharing among end-users

Nikolaus Franke, Sonali Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study contributes to our understanding of the innovation process by bringing attention to and investigating the process by which innovators outside of firms obtain innovation-related resources and assistance. This study is the first to explicitly examine how user-innovators gather the information and assistance they need to develop their ideas and how they share and diffuse the resulting innovations. Specifically, this exploratory study analyzes the context within which individuals who belong to voluntary special-interest communities develop sports-related consumer product innovations. We find that these individuals often prototype novel sports-related products and that they receive assistance in developing their innovations from fellow community members. We find that innovation-related information and assistance, as well as the innovations themselves, are freely shared within these communities. The nature of these voluntary communities, and the "institutional" structure supporting innovation and free sharing of innovations is likely to be of interest to innovation researchers and managers both within and beyond this product arena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-178
Number of pages22
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Communities
  • End-users
  • Innovation
  • Institutional structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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