Dr. rer. pol., Universitätsprofessor

Frank Thomas Piller

Professor and Head of Group

Professor Dr. Frank T. Piller
Institute for Technology and Innovation Management (TIM)


Building: 3011

Room: B 360

Kackertstraße 7, 3. Etage

52072 Aachen


Phone: +49 241 80 93577
Fax: +49 241 80 92367

Office Hours

Mi. 13-14 Uhr, nach telef. Anmeldung im Sekretariat

Personal Data

Frank Piller is a professor of management and a Co-Director of the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) at RWTH Aachen University, Germany's leading university of technology. He is also the Academic Director of the Institute for Management Cybernetics (ifu e.V.), an independent research institute associated with RWTH Aachen with a focus on applied research on data-driven decision making and change in organizations.

Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and TUM School of Management, TU Muenchen. He held visiting professorships at HKUST, Chalmers University, and IE Business School.

Prof. Piller is known as a leading expert on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His group at RWTH became one of the globally leading research centers for open and distributed innovation, supported by competitive research grants of about US$1million annually. As indicated by an h-Score of 56, 16,500 citations of his publications (Google Scholar), and more than 300 general press articles about his studies (and listed as the only German professor on LDRLB's "Top50 Profs on Twitter" list), his work has attracted broad attention and reception in academia and the management community.

Prof. Piller’s current research focuses on the need of established corporations to deal with disruptive business model innovation and supporting organizational structures and cultures. Leadership for Industry 4.0 and Managing a Digital Transformation are core topics in this field. He also is currently building a research program on the role of AI&ML in the innovation process: AI&ML-augmented innovation management.

At RWTH Aachen, he is a principle investigator of the Cluster of Excellence "Internet of Production", focusing on decision making in the age of AI/ML and industrial business ecosystems. He is the Chairman of a cross-industry group hosted by VDI (Verein Deutsche Ingenieure) to develop standards for platform-based digital business models ("Fachausschuss Geschäftsmodelle für Industrie 4.0"), a member of the Academic Advisory Board of Germany’s NationalPlatform Industrie 4.0” by Acatech, and a member of the Advisory Council of Germany's main AI/ML stakeholder platform, "Lernende Systeme" by BMBF & BMWi.

Frank Piller is an acclaimed speaker at management conferences and in executive education programs around the world. He has consulted and delivered executive workshops for most Dax30 and many Fortune500 companies and contributed teaching modules as a guest professor at a number of leading business schools like HKUST, IE Business School, Vlerick, St Gallen, or MIT. At RWTH, he is a recipient of the RWTH Teaching Award. Frank also received an award for teaching innovation within the German Exzellenzinitiative for introducing the first European MOOC with ECTS points, a potentially disruptive innovation to the business model of established universities.

In addition to his academic endeavors, Frank is engaged as an investor or advisor in several companies. In the moment, his largest focus is on Doob Group, a pioneer in 3D printing & human avatars, where he serves as a non-executive board member and active investor.

Selected Publications (a full list can be found here)

  • David Antons, Tim Coltman, Timothy Devinney, Julian Hannen, Frank Piller, and Oliver Salge: Containing the Not-Invented-Here Syndrome in external knowledge absorption and open innovation. Research Policy , 48 (2019) 11 (November): 1038222 (17 pages).

  • Kathleen Diener and Frank Piller: The Market for Open Innovation : The Open Innovation Accelerator (OIA) Survey. 3rd edition 2020

  • Fabrizio Salvador, Frank Piller, and Shivom Aggarwal: Surviving on the Long Tail: An empirical investigation of the enablers of business models for mass customization startups. Long Range Planning . In press, May 2019 .

  • Robin Kleer and Frank Piller: Local manufacturing by users and structural shifts in competition: Market dynamics of additive manufacturing. International Journal of Production Economics . 216 (2019) 10: 23-34.

  • Patrick Pollok, Dirk Lüttgens & Frank Piller: Attracting submissions in crowdsourcing contests: The role of search distance, identity disclosure, and seeker status. Research Policy . 48 (2019) 1 (February): 98-114. Recipient of the Jurgen-Hauschildt-Award 2019 .

  • Frank Piller, Kathrin Möslein, Christoph Ihl und Ralf Reichwald: Interaktive Wertschöpfung: Open Innovation, Individualisierung und neue Formen der Arbeitsteilung , 3. Auflage: Wiesbaden: Gabler 2017 (first edition: 2006).

  • Alexandra Gatzweiler, Vera Blazevic, and Frank Piller: Dark Side or Bright Light: Managing Deviant Content in Consumer Ideation Contests. Journal of Product Innovation Management . 34 (2017) 6 (November): 772–789. Winner of the 2013 PDMA Research Award. In the Top 10 of Downloaded JPIM papers in 2017

  • David Antons and Frank Piller: Opening the Black Box of “Not Invented Here”: Attitudes, Decision Biases, and Behavioral Consequences. Academy of Management Perspectives . 29 (2015) 2: 193-217.

  • Sebastian Kortmann, Carsten Gelhard, Carsten Zimmermann and Frank Piller: Linking Strategic Flexibility and Operational Efficiency: The Mediating Role of Ambidextrous Operational Capabilities. Journal of Operations Management (JOM), 32 (2014) 5: 475–490.

  • Frank T. Piller and Dominik Walcher: Toolkits for idea competitions: A novel method to integrate users in new product development, R&D Management , 36 (2006) 3: 307-318. One of the "All Time Top 10 Cited Articles" in the 50 year history of the R&D Journal.

  • Susumu Ogawa & Frank T. Piller: Collective Customer Commitment: Reducing the risks of new product development, MIT Sloan Management Review , 47 (2006) 2 (Winter 2006): 65-72.

  • Nikolaus Franke and Frank Piller: Value Creation by Toolkits for User Innovation and Design: The Case of the Watch Market, Journal of Product Innovation Management , 21 (2004) 6 (November): 401-415.

Additional Links

Institute for Management Cybernetics (ifu e.V.)
Google Scholar Citation Impact
ResearchGate Page
Frank Pillers professional Homepage

Media Reports about Frank Piller's Research