User Knowledge Utilization in Innovation of Complex Products and Systems: An Absorptive Capacity Perspective

14 Pages Posted: 7 May 2018

See all articles by Thomas Abrell

Thomas Abrell

University of St. Gallen - Institute of Information Management

Andreas Benker

Aalto University

Matti Pihlajamaa

Aalto University

Date Written: June 2018

Abstract

Firms tap into user knowledge to learn about the users’ needs. While users have been recognized as a valuable source of knowledge for innovation, few studies have investigated how their knowledge is integrated into innovation processes in the context of complex products and systems (CoPS). The purpose of this study is to reveal the practices of CoPS manufacturers to facilitate user knowledge utilization for innovation. We investigate two case companies, a medical device manufacturer and an aircraft manufacturer, and report on seven managerial practices for utilizing user knowledge. We adopt the absorptive capacity model in structuring our findings and elaborate three of the model's sub‐capabilities (recognition of the value of user knowledge, acquisition of user knowledge, and assimilation/transformation of user knowledge) by proposing that each is associated with a distinct managerial goal and related practices: (1) Sensitizing the organization to the innovation potential of user knowledge, (2) identifying and gaining access to suitable user knowledge, and (3) analyzing and interpreting user knowledge and integrating it into product development. Our study contributes to the innovation management literature by analyzing the capabilities required to utilize user knowledge throughout the CoPS innovation process.

Suggested Citation

Abrell, Thomas and Benker, Andreas and Pihlajamaa, Matti, User Knowledge Utilization in Innovation of Complex Products and Systems: An Absorptive Capacity Perspective (June 2018). Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 27, Issue 2, pp. 169-182, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3173894 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/caim.12244

Thomas Abrell (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen - Institute of Information Management ( email )

Langgasse 1
St. Gallen, 9008
Switzerland

Andreas Benker

Aalto University

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101
Finland

Matti Pihlajamaa

Aalto University

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101
Finland

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