Abstract

Previous studies have shown that many users innovate to serve their own needs. Furthermore, a number of these innovations are commercialized affecting the rate and direction of innovation in industry (von Hippel 1988). However, the traditional wisdom has been that users rarely commercialize their innovations themselves.

Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of entrepreneurship by innovating users in a number of sectors, such as extreme sports (Hienerth 2005), specialized medical equipment (Lettl, Hienerth & Gemünden 2008) and juvenile products (Shah & Tripsas 2007). Furthermore, recent work has sought to explain the conditions affecting the level of user entrepreneurship, both at the industry level (Baldwin, Hienerth, and von Hippel 2006) and the individual level (Fredriksen, Dahlander and Autio 2008). However, our knowledge of the general prevalence of user entrepreneurship and the characteristics of user-innovating entrepreneurs is still limited.

The objective of this study is twofold: First, to estimate the share of user entrepreneurship in the overall level of entrepreneurship in a country. Second, to investigate how user entrepreneurs differ from other entrepreneurs in terms of their attitudes and aspirations.

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