Users and independent inventors have been identified as two important sources of innovation that companies may draw upon during innovation processes. In order to successfully turn this external knowledge into innovations, companies need to assimilate it as well as understand its applicability. However, as users and independent inventors draw on different knowledge and have different motivations for innovating, companies may need different absorptive capacities when trying to transfer and apply the external knowledge generated by users and independent inventors.
This research uses archival data on patented inventions in medical technology to compare users’ and independent inventors’ inventions. It analyzes different sets of knowledge inside and outside the field of medical technology that both groups of inventors draw upon as well as different motivations for innovating.
The findings provide several new insights for research on user and open innovation and will help companies understand the requirements and potential implications of integrating different external sources of innovation into their R&D processes.