Full citation

Lettl, C. (2007). User involvement competence for radical innovation. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, (24), 53-75.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: Contrary to a body of literature claiming that consumer involvement skews NDP toward incrementalism, this paper argues that involving the right users, at the right time and in the right form, can actually complement technical and marketing analysis, and facilitate radical innovation.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Government, Large business, Small business (less than 500 employees), University

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Manufacturers, Researchers

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary Findings

Barriers:

  • Limitation on Consumer contribution — Users might not be willing to contribute to radical innovation projects (barrier of NOT WANTING), due to high anticipated cost of switching from familiar, and fear that user's existing knowledge may become obsolete.
    Literature review and case study.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 6.3, Step 5.3
  • Limitations on Consumer contribution — Cognitive limitations can hinder the ability of users to delivery valuable input (barrier of NOT KNOWING), due to: 1) Users can be functionally fixed on their current use context; 2) Difficult to evaluate concepts and prototypes when no reference product exists; 3) High technological complexity can limit value of input.
    Literature review and case study.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 6.3, Step 5.3

Carrier: Firms need to establish a competence in how to systematically identify consumers who are willing and able to contribute to radical innovation in NPD, and how to effectively and efficiently interact with them: 1) Know which users are capable of providing valuable input to innovation projects; 2) Know what interaction patterns with users are appropriate in innovation projects.
Literature review and cast study.
Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 6.3, Step 5.3

Tips:

  • Consumers with the right qualifications to participate in radical innovation projects are highly motivated toward exploration of new rather than familiar solutions, are open to the application of new technology platforms, possess a diverse range of competencies at high levels of proficiency, and operate from within a very supportive environment.
    Literature review and case study.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 6.3, Step 5.3
  • The outlined dimensions of user competence need to be differentiated according to the different stages of NPD in which the consumers are involved, such as Idea Generation activity, versus Design activity, versus Prototype testing activity.
    Literature review and case study.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.2, Step 1.3, Step 6.3, Step 5.3

Secondary Findings

Method: Empirical studies show that users play an important role for NPD in the field of medical technologies. (Biemans, 1991; Luethje, 2003)
Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 6.3, Step 5.3