Not invented here

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Not invented here (NIH) is a stance adopted by social, corporate, or institutional cultures that avoid using or buying already existing products, research, standards, or knowledge because of their external origins and costs, such as royalties. Research illustrates a strong bias against ideas from the outside.[1]

The reasons for not wanting to use the work of others are varied, but some can include a desire to support a local economy instead of paying royalties to a foreign license-holder, fear of patent infringement, lack of understanding of the foreign work, an unwillingness to acknowledge or value the work of others, jealousy, or forming part of a wider turf war.[2] As a social phenomenon, this philosophy can manifest as an unwillingness to adopt an idea or product because it originates from another culture, a form of tribalism.[3]

The term is normally used in a pejorative sense. The opposite predisposition is sometimes called "proudly found elsewhere" (PFE)[4] or "invented elsewhere".

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, quicker to develop, and incur lower overall cost (including maintenance cost) than using existing implementations. In-house developments are often collaborative with each other. When two in-house developments come together, it is informally known as "computer incest."

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

"Cascade of Attention-Deficit Teenagers" anti-pattern[edit]

A related anti-pattern, sarcastically named "Cascade of Attention-Deficit Teenagers" (CADT) by Jamie Zawinski, emerges when successive teams working on a project decide to rewrite the program from scratch rather than continue with the existing code base.

In most cases, the primary impulse is a form of Not Invented Here regarding the work by the previous team, especially if there are few or no developers from the previous team in the new one. The 'cascade' refers to the tendency - found primarily, but not exclusively, in long-running software development projects - of teams with a high turnover to go through several cycles of rewriting, with the result that long-standing problems with the project get repeated, while previous learned lessons are lost.

Zawinski coined the term in light of his experiences with a series of projects to update the GNOME desktop in the early 2000s.[5] The similar term "Invented Here, But Let's Reinvent It Anyway" (IHBLRIA) was coined by Alex Papadimoulis in an article for The Daily WTF in 2004.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Piezunka, Henning,; Dahlander, Linus (26 Jun 2014). "Distant Search, Narrow Attention: How Crowding Alters Organizations' Filtering of Suggestions in Crowdsourcing". Academy of Management Journal. 58: 856–880.
  2. ^ "The Innovation Playbook: A Revolution in Business Excellence", Nicholas J. Webb, Chris Thoen, John Wiley and Sons, 2010, ISBN 0-470-63796-X,
  3. ^ The Cambridge economic history of modern Britain
  4. ^ P&G's New Innovation Model
  5. ^ Jamie Zawinski. "The CADT Model". Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  6. ^ Alex Papadimoulis. "Invented Here, But Let's Reinvent It Anyway". Retrieved 2018-04-26.