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Eric Von Hippel.

Eric von Hippel (born August 27, 1941) is an economist and a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, specializing in the nature and economics of distributed and open innovation. He is best known for his work developing the concept of user innovation – that end-users, rather than manufacturers, are responsible for a large amount of new innovation. In order to describe this phenomenon, he introduced the term lead user in 1986. von Hippel's work has applications in business strategy and free/open source software (FLOSS) and von Hippel is one of the most highly cited social scientist writing on FLOSS.

Eric von Hippel is the son of the material scientist and physicist Arthur Robert von Hippel who was also a professor at MIT. His great uncle is the German ophthalmologist Eugen von Hippel.

The BUGvonHippel is a breakout board module and an example of open-source hardware. It is named for von Hippel and its enclosure bears his name in Braille.



  • Copenhagen Business School Ph.D. 2007 (Hon)
  • Ludwig-Maximillians Universität München Ph.D. 2004 (Hon)
  • Carnegie Mellon University Ph.D. 1974
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology S.M. 1966
  • Harvard College B.A. 1964

Major works

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