The lead user concept developed by Eric von Hippel is perhaps the only formal method designed specifically for identifying innovators. This paper discusses the applicability of von Hippel's lead user concept in the architectural industry where technological innovations are necessary yet gravely scarce. In order to examine the applicability of the lead user method, a set of seven case studies of novel energy efficient solutions found in built facilities in Europe and North America were analyzed. The result of the study indicates that the method may not be suitable for identifying the likely source of innovation if the innovation does not focus on an individual's needs; combined efforts are mandatory to create the innovation; and the size and complexity of the innovation make it impossible for a user or an individual to deliver or to test it out on his/her own. The concept of lead provider is introduced and several characteristics are identified.
The TQM Magazine – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 1, 2004
Keywords: Innovation; Energy; Technology led strategy; Architecture; Construction industry