Edited by Jon Sundbo and Marja Toivonen
Chapter 5: KIBS and their Users as Co-creators of Breakthrough Innovation
Hanne Westh Nicolajsen and Ada Scupola INTRODUCTION 1 It is well recognized that innovation is crucial to achieving market advantages. Traditionally innovation has been seen as an internal organizational activity. Recently, innovation has been increasingly seen as an activity that takes place in networks with users and customers, business partners and sometimes even competitors (Chesbrough, 2006; 2003; Christensen, 1997; Christensen and Bower, 1996). This is also the case within engineering consultancies, where the emphasis is no longer on development and innovation achieved through the companies’ assignments, but rather on development and innovation proactively achieved through collaboration with customers and external partners (e.g. Miles, 2005). It is well known that engineering consultancies as well as many knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) act as intermediaries between academia and companies and that collaboration with academia may lead to radical innovations (Leiponen, 2001). However, little is known about the three-part collaboration (KIBS, academia, clients) and how the involvement of clients can lead to breakthrough innovation. In this chapter we address this gap by looking at the co-creation of innovation involving universities, KIBS and users. Here we focus on a specific type of user among the many different user types (e.g. customers, consumers, citizens), namely the ‘user’ as ‘the customer’ or ‘the client’ in a businessto-business context, meaning that the users are business customers either receiving a given service or using the service to serve their customers. From here on, these two words, ‘user’ and ‘customer’ are used interchangeably in this chapter. Consulting services are one...
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