Eric von Hippel

T. Wilson (1953) Professor in Management
Professor of Management of Innovation and Engineering Systems


Eric von HippelEric A. von Hippel is a founder of the Entrepreneurship Program at MIT. His academic research examines the sources and economics of innovation.

Von Hippel is known for pioneering research that has shown how product lead users are often the developers of successful new products, rather than the manufacturers, as has been commonly assumed. This research, along with that of collaborators and others, is now triggering a major rethinking of how the innovation process works. The emerging view that users are at the center of the innovation process promises to bring about major changes in company business models and also in government policymaking on innovation-related matters. Denmark recently became the first country to adopt support of user-centered innovation as national policy. Von Hippel also has developed practical tools that are used worldwide to enable product manufacturers to more efficiently participate in user-centered innovation processes. In addition, he has founded and participated in several startup firms.

Von Hippel serves on numerous editorial advisory boards for academic journals and is an active researcher with a number of international collaborators. His most recent book is Democratizing Innovation (MIT Press, 2005). Copies can be downloaded free of charge from his MIT Website at

Von Hippel is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, was a fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and served as Sir Walter Scott Distinguished Professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Faculty Media

  • Are You Ready for Do It Yourself Mobile Apps?

    DIY is pervasive these days. Whether it’s self-service checkout at the grocery store, home repair how-to videos on YouTube, or your neighbor brewing his own beer in his backyard, having the ability...

  • Innovation Far Removed From the Lab

    Do-it-yourselfers like Mr. Reetz may not know it, but their tinkering is challenging a deeply entrenched tenet of economic theory: that producers, not consumers, are the ones who innovate.

  • Eric von Hippel Defines Five Terms for Financial Times

    Every Thursday, a business school professor, an expert in his or her field, will define five key terms. This week, MIT Sloan's Eric von Hippel defines: customer co-development, lead users, open...

  • Honorary Doctorate for Prof. Eric von Hippel

    The economist Eric von Hippel is one of the worlds most renowned academic experts in management and innovation research The Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) today awarded an honorary...

  • Humboldt Research Award for Professor Eric von Hippel

    Eric von Hippel, one of the world's most renowned scholars in the area of innovation research, has been distinguished with a Humboldt Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The...

  • MIT Professor: Let Your Customers Drive Innovation

    MIT Sloan's Eric von Hippel says companies owe their customers a debt of gratitude. The reason, he said in an interview with the MIT Sloan Management Review, is that surprisingly often, ideas for...

  • The Age of the Consumer-Innovator

    Recent research shows that consumers collectively generate massive amounts of product innovation. These findings are a wake-up call for both companies and consumers and have significant...

  • Democratizing Innovation

    If you have ever come up with a work-around or improvement for a balky product only to find that it performs better than the original, you are not alone. MIT Sloan's Eric von Hippel proffers...

  • Innovation Process Benefits: The Journey as Reward

    Organizations can considerably amplify the resources available to their innovation projects by helping volunteer innovators benefit from participating in the process.

  • Horizontal Innovation Networks, By and For Users

    This paper discusses three conditions under which user innovation networks can function entirely independently of manufacturers.


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