Reuse of prior work involves multiple search processes within it and has been characterized as the most common innovation creation method. However, reuse carries the risk of imitating. Another important element for any successful innovation endeavor is novelty, which is often linked to unpractical solutions. These seemingly contradictory forces affect innovation processes, yet little is known about them. Digital artifacts in various forms and contexts present an opportunity to examine both of these processes openly and in unprecedented scale. My thesis examines 35,727 product designs submitted to the largest 3D printing online community from January 2009 to June 2013, showing how (i) digital artifact reuse, (ii) novelty and (iii) their interaction affect design usage. I use a mixture of research methods to draw insights about how members of open innovation communities search to create something new and how they build upon preexisting work. A novel computer graphics method and a topic modeling method are used to objectively measure the distance between the 3D product designs in terms of i) their shape and ii) their semantic differences. These methods are used to quantify the degree of novelty of a proposed design at the time of its submission, as well as the distances between parent and final designs. In contrast to prior work, my findings indicate that designers benefit from reuse. I find that reuse processes where designers combine their prior work with the work of others yield better designs. A theory of innovation as a search process to evolve prior designs and as a search process to create novel designs is described to explain how reuse of prior work and novelty synergize in collaborative innovation communities.
|Advisor:||Nickerson, Jeffrey V.|
|Commitee:||Mason, Winter A., Sabnis, Gaurav, Vinsel, Lee|
|School:||Stevens Institute of Technology|
|School Location:||United States -- New Jersey|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Design, Management, Information science|
|Keywords:||3D printing, Collective innovation, Computer-supported cooperative work, Crowdsourcing, Open & user innovation, Open source hardware|
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