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Creating major innovations with customers: insights from small and young technology firms

2012

Nicole Coviello R M Joseph

The marketing literature typically argues that customers cannot easily be involved with, and contribute to, the creation of major innovation (MI). This article finds otherwise. The authors use an inductive process method to study how six MIs were developed for business-to-business markets by small and young technology firms. Three of the MIs were successful, and three failed. The firms with MI success are distinguished by a nonconventional new product development process that includes five iterative and overlapping activities and up to ten different customer roles. These activities and roles are captured in a multifaceted taxonomy of customer participation. The analysis also uncovers three capabilities relevant to the development of successful MI—capabilities that are effectual rather than adaptive in nature. These findings and the propositions derived from them offer a more complete understanding of customer participation, new product development across contexts, and marketing capabilities.

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