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 9: Conclusions

Emanula Prandelli, Mohanbir Sawhney and Gianmario Verona

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


This book has shed light on the key drivers of collaborative innovation in a context where NPD activities assume a more and more distributed nature. It has highlighted the new tools that companies can use in order to collaborate with their customers in digital settings and it has sketched out three major organizational modes of collaborative innovation in the extended network. At the same time, it has contributed to identifying two fundamental dilemmas, which we would like to leave at the end of our book as food for thought for scholars interested in the field. 9.1 THE KNOWLEDGE DILEMMA: SPECIALIZATION VERSUS MULTIDISCIPLINARITY A first dilemma associated with value creation in collaborative innovation is related to the fact that ICTs increase the need for knowledge specialization both at the firm and at the community level, but at the same time they require the development of more diverse competences to face convergent industries, generating possibilities of reconnection and recombination through both weak and strong virtual ties. To some extent, ICTs simultaneously create the ‘problem’ – knowledge specialization – and its ‘solution’ – knowledge socialization. However, the likelihood of success in matching these opposite drivers depends on the firm’s ability to select the proper combination between the lead sponsor of the value creation activity and the tightness of the linkages connecting all the actors of the collaborative innovation system. Hence, in order to drive this decision proficiently, managers need to be provided not only with the entire portfolio of alternative governance modes, but also with...

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