Not invented here

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Not invented here (NIH) is the philosophical principle of not using third party solutions to a problem because of their external origins. False pride often drives an enterprise to use less-than-perfect invention in order to save face by ignoring, boycotting, or otherwise refusing to use or incorporate obviously superior solutions by others.


The reasons for not wanting to use the work of others are varied, but can include fear of patent infringement, lack of understanding of the foreign work, an unwillingness to acknowledge and/or value the work of others (jealousy), 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 manufacturing[edit]

The radial tire was patented and innovated by Michelin in France in 1946,[4] but Americans did not have widespread access to this superior technology until the 1970s. American automobile makers and tire manufacturers called the radial tire "a freak product that isn’t going anywhere." [5]

One basic cause of superiority for the radial concept is due to the trade-off between strength and lower heat transfer. To gain strength, the older Bias design adds additional layers, and each layer causes more heat to build up. Radials allow the use of stronger (steel) layers instead, lowering heat buildup.[6]

Radials accounted for 70% of the French market by 1965, but only 2% of the American market as late as 1968.[7]

In 1968, Consumer Reports, an influential American magazine, acknowledged the superiority of the radial tire design, documenting its longer tread life, better steering characteristics, and less rolling resistance, which increases gas mileage.[8][9]

In 1970, Ford Motor Company produced the first American-made vehicle with radial tires as standard equipment, the Lincoln Continental Mark III.[10]

By the 1980s, radial tires achieved a market share of 100%, indicating that the Not Invented Here syndrome can only slow progress for a few decades.[5] In the case of tires, non-US entrants moved into the American market, and the American industry suffered costly setbacks and lost significant market share, resulting in restructuring and consolidation.[11]

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 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 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;[12]
  • An entity outside one's own control is a vendor lock-in and a constant threat to business proportional to the repercussions of losing it.[13]
  • 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. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Kraus, James Michelin and the birth of the radial tire March 7, 2011 Retrieved July 26, 2015
  7. ^ Tedlow, Richard S. Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face---and What to Do About It ISBN 1591843138 March 4, 2010 Retrieved July 26, 2015
  8. ^ Consumer Reports, "Tires," Consumer Reports, (August 1968): 404-409.
  9. ^ Welch, David Bloomberg Businessweek A Tale of Two Tires May 4, 2006 Retrieved July 26, 2015
  10. ^ Vaughan, Daniel 1969 Lincoln Continental news, pictures, specifications, and information September 2008 Retrieved July 26, 2015
  11. ^ Sull, Donald [ Harvard Business School The Dynamics of Standing Still: Firestone Tire & Rubber and the Radial Revolution] November 27, 2000 Retrieved July 26, 2015
  12. ^ Joel Spolsky (2001-10-14). "In Defense of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome". Joel on Software. 
  13. ^ "Electronic Arts plays hardball". Retrieved 2008-12-29.