“sticky” information

I found a nice treasure trove of academic papers from Eric Von Hippel, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, regarding user-centered innovation.

I particularly like his concept for describing “sticky” information:  The author’s point is that economists too easily discount the cost of “information transfer”.  Connecting the critical information of an end user’s problem to a problem solver/problem solving organization is complicated by how difficult or costly it is to transfer the required key information.


“The need to transfer information from its point of origin to a specified problem-solving site will not affect the locus of problem-solving activity when that information can be shifted at no or little cost. However, when information is costly to acquire, transfer, and use – is, in our terms, “sticky” – we find that patterns in the distribution of problem solving can be affected in several significant ways.”

I think this nicely simplifies the challenge of traditional product marketing.  There are too many transfers of critical information, during which many critical nuances are lost — the information was too “sticky”, too difficult to efficiently transfer.