The Emergence of the Maker Movement: Implications for Entrepreneurship Research

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: The "maker movement" democratizes invention and entrepreneurship through sharing tools in social spaces that facilitate learning and collaboration on tangible projects. The maker movement can increase entrepreneurship rates, catalyze advanced manufacturing, and spur economic development, especially in inner-city areas. It may increase the number of team-based ventures, blunt the effects of living in small-world networks, enhance team diversity, and increase the range and scope of recruiting for team members. Some observers describe the movement as the next industrial revolution.

The growth of the maker movement reflects societal and technological changes regarding who can participate in innovation and how innovative designs and products are developed. Makers often find intrinsic value in skill-building, creative experimentation, and the collaborative process enabled by shared access to tools and digital fabrication technologies. The configuration of social exchange, technology resources and the creation and sharing of knowledge can lead to entrepreneurship outcomes and extend R&D capabilities beyond the boundaries of highly resourced corporations.

The maker movement has been touted as a harbinger of the next industrial revolution. Through shared access to tools and digital fabrication technologies, makers can act as producers in the sharing economy and potentially increase entrepreneurship rates, catalyze advanced manufacturing, and spur economic development.

Humans have made artifacts throughout history, but the growing maker movement represents a fundamental break from the craftwork of the past. Three features set it apart:

  1. A high level of social exchange and collaboration among diverse actors.
  2. Enhanced knowledge creation and sharing in physical or virtual spaces.
  3. The production of material artifacts using technological resources previously restricted to corporate R&D facilities.

These features democratize invention and innovation, allowing some makers to commercialize their projects and act as producer-entrepreneurs in the sharing economy

Four external enabling forces of digitization, economization, collaboration, and user-innovation shape the resource dimensions and outcomes of the maker movement. Examples of successful ventures suggest that the conditions under which maker projects can become commercially viable depend on the coordination of technology, social, and knowledge resources through which makers develop expertise, designs, networks, and communities.

Since its modest beginnings in Europe in the late 20th century, the maker movement has gained momentum, growing rapidly in many countries. Several metrics reveal the momentum of the maker movement:

  1. Maker Faires are major events officially sanctioned by Make Magazine, held in large cities and involving hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees. Attendance grew from 22,000 people in 2006 at a single event to over 1.4 million people at 191 events in 38 countries in 2016.
  2. The number of maker spaces listed in publicly available databases grew from a few dozen to almost 1400 world-wide over that same period.
  3. The number of participants enrolled in InnoCentive, a crowdsourcing platform for solving difficult technical problems, has grown to over 375,000.
  4. Creative Commons’ licenses, which enable the free distribution of otherwise copyrighted work, have grown immensely in the past few decades. The rapid global diffusion of the maker movement marks it as substantially different from the cottage industry, craft-working, and mostly residence-based DIY movements of the past.

The maker movement phenomenon is an opportunity to advance theoretical and empirical entrepreneurship research.

Read the full study HERE

Feature Charticle

 

Indicators of the Global Growth of the Maker Movement

Journal of Business Venturing

Findings:

  • The "maker movement" democratizes invention and entrepreneurship through sharing tools in social spaces that facilitate learning and collaboration on tangible projects.

  • The maker movement can increase entrepreneurship rates, catalyze advanced manufacturing, and spur economic development, especially in inner-city areas.
     
  • Several metrics reveal the momentum of the maker movement, including the growth in Maker Faires, the number of maker spaces listed in publicly available databases, the number of participants enrolled in InnoCentive, and the number of Creative Commons' licenses. 

  • Some observers describe the movement as the next industrial revolution.

Read the full study HERE