Not invented here

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Not invented here (NIH) is the philosophy of social, corporate, or institutional cultures that avoid using or buying already existing products, research, standards, or knowledge because of their external origins.


The reasons for not wanting to use the work of others are varied, but can include fear through lack of understanding, an unwillingness to value the work of others, or forming part of a wider "turf war".[1] As a social phenomenon, this philosophy manifests as an unwillingness to adopt an idea or product because it originates from another culture, a form of tribalism.[2]


The term is normally used in a pejorative sense. The opposite predisposition is sometimes called "proudly found elsewhere" (PFE)[3] or invented here.

In computing[edit]

In programming, it is also common to refer to the NIH "Syndrome" as the tendency towards reinventing the wheel (reimplementing something that is already available) based on the belief that in-house developments are inherently better suited, more secure, more controlled, shorter development time, or lower overall cost (including maintenance cost) than using existing implementations.

In some cases, software with the same functionality as an existing one is re-implemented just to allow for the use of a different software license. One approach of doing so is the clean room design.

Reasoning in favor of the NIH approach includes:

  • Third-party components or services mostly do not live up to expectations when high quality is required;[4]
  • An entity outside your control is a vendor lock-in and a constant threat to business proportional to the repercussions of losing it.[5]
  • Closed solutions can be perceived as lacking future unknown flexibility.

These drawbacks are alleviated by:

  • Taking an external solution as a base for own development rather than using it as-is;
  • Ensuring control of an external entity in case of loss of its supply channel, such as obtaining its source code.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Innovation Playbook: A Revolution in Business Excellence", Nicholas J. Webb, Chris Thoen, John Wiley and Sons, 2010, ISBN 0-470-63796-X,
  2. ^ The Cambridge economic history of modern Britain
  3. ^ P&G's New Innovation Model
  4. ^ Joel Spolsky (2001-10-14). "In Defense of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome". Joel on Software. 
  5. ^ "Electronic Arts plays hardball". Retrieved 2008-12-29.