Collaborating with Customers to Innovate

Collaborating with Customers to Innovate

Conceiving and Marketing Products in the Networking Age

Emanula Prandelli, Mohanbir Sawhney and Gianmario Verona

The book enriches an important debate in management and in academia on the new product development process. It encompasses marketing approaches and is sharply focused on the opportunities that digital technologies have created for involving customers in collaborative innovation, and actionable recommendations for putting collaborative innovation to work.

Chapter 6: Virtual Communities

Emanula Prandelli, Mohanbir Sawhney and Gianmario Verona

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, marketing, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, knowledge management, organisational innovation

Extract

INTRODUCTION In this chapter, we examine the emerging phenomenon of virtual communities, which is playing an increasingly important role in the distributed innovation process. The Internet has meaningfully and irreversibly changed the way relationships are created and promoted with and among consumers. Consequently, firms have no choice but to develop interactive channels of communication with communities of customers. The Internet lends itself very well as a forum for forming and growing communities, because, at its heart, the Internet is a social medium. It has a decentralized structure with no hierarchical organization, so it allows peer-to-peer conversations to develop without any centralized control. A hallmark of the Internet is its ability to aggregate specialized resources without regard to geography. Increasingly, knowledge diffused on the Web tends to regroup spontaneously around shared interests in the search for affinities and reciprocal enrichment. Specialized knowledge within a specific cluster of people tends to combine with socially generated knowledge between different clusters, permitting learning from very different industries and domains to be synthesized. As such, the Internet has become fertile ground for the germination and growth of communities that combine creativity, knowledge and competences of individual contributors. We open the chapter with some observations on the meaning of the term ‘virtual community’, and we identify contexts within which the concept can be applied. Then, we focus on virtual communities of consumption. In particular, we point out how important it is for firms to strategically manage these communities to maximize their...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information