Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Web-Based Customer Innovation: A Replication with Extension

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Web-Based Customer Innovation: A Replication with Extension

Article excerpt

In the current globalized world, knowledge and information are becoming more dispersed and accessible (Chesbrough, 2003). As a result, customers are getting increasingly knowledgeable and proactive. Customer involvement into innovation activities can, thus, be very beneficial for companies. Advancing information and communication technologies (ICT) continuously offer novel solutions for efficient collaboration between the firm and the customer (Buyukozkan, Baykasoglu, & Dereli, 2007; Dahan & Hauser, 2002; Dahan & Srinivasan, 2000; Hoffman & Novak, 1996; Iansiti & MacCormack, 1997; MacCormack, Verganti, & Iansiti, 2001; Von Hippel & Katz, 2002). Companies are, however, very different in how fast they recognize the opportunities and adopt new methods created by new technologies (Jagodic, Courvisanos, & Yearwood, 2009; Rai, 1995; Rohrbeck & Al, 2010). Despite accumulating evidence on valuable contribution of customer1 involvement into the innovation process (Dahlsten, 2004; Kristensson, Gustafsson, & Archer, 2004; Lettl, 2007; Ohly, Kase, & Skerlavaj, 2010; Prahalad, 2004) and the high potential of the web and information technologies for customer integration (Droge, Stanko, & Pollitte, 2010; Farris et al., 2003; Franke, Keinz, & Schreier, 2008; Hemetsberger & Godula, 2007; Jeppesen, 2005; Kaiser & Muller-Seitz, 2008; Nambisan, 2002; Sawhney, Verona, & Prandelli, 2005), seemingly very few companies manage to master advanced methods of web-based customer innovation2 (Rohrbeck & Al, 2010).

Almost 5 years ago, Prandelli, Verona, and Raccagni (2006) examined to which extent capabilities of the Internet are exploited by companies for collaboration with customers for innovation. Their study 'Diffusion of web-based product innovation' mapped web-based tools that companies integrated into their web-sites to support customer innovation. The findings of the study showed that the actual usage of the web-based tools was still very limited and specific to certain industries and companies' types. Nevertheless, the research on the Internet capabilities supporting customer-firm collaboration for innovation purposes has been multiplying since the time of the article's publication (e.g., Fuller, 2006; Füller, 2010; Füller, Faullant, & Matzler, 2010; Fuller & Matzler, 2007; Fuller, Muhlbacher, Matzler, & Jawecki, 2009; Hemetsberger & Godula, 2007; Kohler, Matzler, & Fuller, 2009; Nambisan & Baron, 2007, 2009, 2010; Nambisan & Nambisan, 2008; Rohrbeck & Al, 2010; Verona, Prandelli, & Sawhney, 2006). This trend suggests that the phenomenon is considered remarkable by scholars despite the slow pace of its recognition by the bulk of companies reported by Prandelli et al. (2006). This study is, hence, motivated by the need to clarify to which extent companies also start realizing the value of the web for collaborating with customers. As the progress of ICT goes on and opening up innovation processes becomes a common practice, it is sensible to assume that companies get gradually accustomed to implementing diverse and advanced mechanisms for involving users deeper into innovation activities. This assumption deserves investigation by comparing the level of diffusion of web-based customer innovation five years ago and now.

Therefore, the main objective of this study is to find out how the actual usage of web-based tools changed over time using the Prandelli et al.'s (2006) study as the benchmark. The fact that the replicated study is the only empirical investigation on diffusion of web-based tools for supporting the innovation process indicates its relevance as the benchmark. In addition, I extend the original study by including a service (telecommunications) industry in the sample. Interaction with customers is crucial for service companies. However, customer involvement in new service development has been mostly considered from the marketing perspective (Alam, 2002). …

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