Innovation and experience goods: a critical appraisal of a missing dimension in innovation theory
By Richard Hawkins
This paper discusses how the concept of experience goods could be integrated conceptually into innovation studies. Experience goods are distinguishable in that their value or utility cannot be determined until after they have been consumed. The concept encompasses an enormous variety of consumer goods whose value is determined largely or entirely by subjective and non-rational factors that are difficult to accommodate in the established framework of innovation theory. This theory has a strong historical orientation to manufactured goods and to technology producer goods. The paper provides some critical perspectives on the conceptual evolution of ‘value’ in innovation theory. It then introduces the experience goods dimension, demonstrating its potential for exploring how historical, social, cultural and economic factors combine in the construction of value-producing innovations. Drawing on the literature of marketing, consumer research, and cultural economics, various dimensions of experience as a factor in innovation are mapped onto Schumpeter’s innovation typology. The paper concludes by discussing some of the implications for future research.
page: 235 – 259
Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation
Volume 30, Issue 3