Social manufacturing: When the maker movement meets interfirm production networks

Markko Hamalainen*, Jesse Karjalainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
167 Downloads (Pure)


New business models harnessing the power of individuals have already revolutionized service industries and digital content production. In this study, we investigate whether a similar phenomenon is taking place in manufacturing industries. We start by conceptually defining two distinct forms of firm-individual collaboration in manufacturing industries: (1) social cloud manufacturing, in which firms outsource manufacturing to individuals, and (2) social platform manufacturing, in which firms provide manufacturing services to individuals. We then empirically investigate the nature of firm-individual collaboration within these forms, focusing on the role of individuals. We find that the individuals are often makers who view their participation primarily as a hobby and are driven mainly by nonmonetary benefits, that the design process often involves both parties, and that the two forms of collaboration exploit different enabling technologies. Our findings suggest that firms working with individuals can potentially reap multiple benefits, including fresh ideas, broader design support, and quick delivery times. This article contributes to an improved understanding of how firms can build potentially disruptive business models in manufacturing industries by leveraging individuals, thereby adding to the emerging stream of literature on social manufacturing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-805
JournalBusiness Horizons
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • 3-D printing
  • Cloud manufacturing
  • Maker movement
  • Sharing economy
  • Social manufacturing


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