Not Invented Here

"Not Invented Here" (NIH) is a term used to describe a persistent sociological, corporate or institutional culture that avoids using or buying already existing products, research or knowledge because of its different origins. It is normally used in a pejorative sense.

As a sociological phenomenon, "Not Invented Here" syndrome is manifested as an unwillingness to adopt an idea or product because it originates from another culture, a form of nationalism.

In computing

The computer industry has seen many examples of "Not Invented Here" syndrome. During the evolution of Mac OS through OS 9, many user interface innovations of other operating systems were not adopted because they went against, or were not discussed in, Apple's original human interface guidelines.Fact|date=February 2007 Criticswho say that this was an example of Apple irrationally rejecting any change not invented by themselves. Apple's long-held single-button mouse philosophy is arguably one example, until Apple introduced the Apple Mighty Mouse.

Another example was the low acceptance of early British-made home computers in Japan and Japanese-made ones in Britain. For example the Timex Sinclair 2068 got almost no attention, while its Sinclair Spectrum predecessor became hugely successful. Similarly the Japanese/Dutch MSX home computer standard became successful in many countries but not in Britain and the USA, which produced competing systems. Likewise, British and American home computers got no foothold in Japan. These cases may demonstrate both the "not invented here" and the "invented here" syndromes.

In the free software community

Many free software or open source projects have been accused of NIH syndrome because often several projects aim to accomplish the same things. For example, there are literally hundreds of Linux distributions. Each ostensibly has a different set of goals or target audience, but in reality most of them end up being nearly identical. Furthermore, as a result of the splitting up of efforts among the different distros, few of them are as actively maintained as they could be.

When a free program is written because all existing programs that accomplish the same task are non-free, this is not NIH. The open source community is trying to provide a needed alternative to some fully or partially closed source implementation. The term "NIH" applies when the reasons are not technical or legal. This is also referred to as "reinventing the wheel". There is, consequently, no good reason to do this, but some of the bad ones include pride, ignorance, discontent with some aspect of the existing solution, or the desire to create for creation's sake. These traits are not specific to open source programmers (many programmers of proprietary software exhibit them as well).Fact|date=July 2007

In academia

In academic environments, the motivation for the NIH effect is twofold: first, resources from student workers are often paid in a lump sum (as a stipend, scholarship, or fixed salary) resulting in no variable increase in pay for more requested work; and second, the drive for publication at some institutions may drive repetition of work done at other institutions or in industry so that the researcher (and institution) may publish about their (repeated) work.Fact|date=July 2007 Replication is however considered an important element in many areas of science.

The quality of academic products developed from the NIH effect varies widely, mostly for the aforementioned reasons.

In the military

Some observers have suggested that the need to keep designers and bureaucrats in work plays an important part in decisions that prefer in-country work. [Katz & Allen, "Investigating the Not Invented Here (NIH) Syndrome: a look at the performance, tenure and communication patterns of 50 R&D project groups". R&D Management vol. 12, pp. 7-19, 1982.]

In media

In the United States, a form of NIH exists in the television industry. A television network affiliated with a particular studio (e.g. ABC and ABC Studios, NBC and Universal Media Studios, CBS and CBS Paramount Television, FOX and 20th Century Fox Television) will often buy much, if not most, of its programming from that particular studio, due to the financial benefits of vertical integration.

Conversely, even if a network-affiliated studio's show is picked up by another network, it is not unheard of for the studio to pull out of the series, on the grounds that it represents a large financial investment into a program for the competing network. For example, Touchstone Television (now ABC Studios) pulled out of "" soon after it was picked up by CBS. [Bill Carter, "Desperate Networks", New York: Doubleday, 2006. pp. 130-131]

See also

* Appeal to spite
* Association fallacy
* Editor wars
* Reinventing the wheel
* Style over substance fallacy
* Wishful thinking
* Groupthink

References


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