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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.

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.[1] 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.[2]

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

In computingEdit

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 clean room design.

Reasoning in favor of the NIH approach includes:

  • Third-party components or services sometimes do not live up to expectations when high quality is needed.[4]
  • An entity outside one's own control is a vendor lock-in and a constant threat to business in proportion to the repercussions of losing it.[5]
  • Closed solutions can be perceived as lacking future flexibility.

Some specific approaches can reduce these drawbacks:

  • An external solution can be taken as a base for one's own development, rather than being used as-is.
  • Control of an external solution can be ensured in case of loss of its supply channel, such as by obtaining its source code, possibly by using open-source software.

See alsoEdit


  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.