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Designing clunkers: demand-side innovation and the early history of the mountain bike

  • Guido Buenstorf

Abstract

Innovation studies in economics tend to focus on the supply side and to assign a passive role to consumers. This passivity of consumers in innovation processes is questioned by the present paper. It is suggested that supply-side considerations alone may be insufficient to account for innovations in consumer good industries. Based on the example of the early development of the mountain bike, the paper shows how consumers may be the dominant actors in consumer good innovations. It is demonstrated that the basic features of mountain bikes had already been established when commercial interests entered the industry, and that development of the mountain bike cannot be understood unless the group setting of its origins is taken into account. To explain the development of the mountain bike, economic, sociological, and psychological concepts are integrated. The dynamics identified in the present case study may hold for a broader class of commodities.

Key words

Consumption Innovation Learning Communication Social groups 

JEL Classification

D11 D71 O33 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guido Buenstorf
    • 1
  1. 1.Evolutionary Economics GroupMax Planck Institute for Research into Economic SystemsJenaGermany

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