Embedded (Lead) Users as Catalysts to Product Diffusion

18 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2015

See all articles by Tim Schweisfurth

Tim Schweisfurth

Technische Universität München (TUM); Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH)

Cornelius Herstatt

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH)

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Date Written: March 2015


Firms can harness social user networks not only for ideation, but also to accelerate and facilitate diffusion of new product introductions. They select individuals whose own product adoptions and opinions influence adoption decisions of others. In this paper we transfer this rationale to firm employees. We focus on ‘embedded users’ who are employees of a firm, but at the same time users of the firm's products. We aim to find out if their access to user networks, use experience and lead userness impact their opinion leadership and domain‐specific innovativeness. We also show how cognitive empathy towards external users is a mechanism to explain these relationships. Drawing on the user innovation and consumer behaviour literature, we derive and test eight hypotheses on a sample of 54 firm employees in gaming hardware firms. We find that lead userness is positively related to domain‐specific innovativeness and opinion leadership, but use experience only to the former. Cognitive empathy mediates all relationships in our study. To facilitate embedded users' tendency to act as opinion leaders and to adopt new products, managers should encourage their employees to use the firm's products to build use experience and thus develop cognitive empathy towards external users.

Suggested Citation

Schweisfurth, Tim and Herstatt, Cornelius, Embedded (Lead) Users as Catalysts to Product Diffusion (March 2015). Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 24, Issue 1, pp. 151-168, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2567057 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/caim.12106

Tim Schweisfurth (Contact Author)

Technische Universität München (TUM)

Arcisstrasse 21
Munich, 80333

Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) ( email )

Schwarzenbergstrasse 95
Hamburg, DE Hamburg 21073
040428783833 (Phone)

Cornelius Herstatt

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) ( email )

Hamburg, D-21071

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