Community based innovation: How to integrate members of virtual communities into new product development

Abstract

Online consumer groups represent a large pool of product know-how. Hence, they seem to be a promising source of innovation. At present, except for open source software, little is known about how to utilize this know-how for new product development. In this article we explore if and how members of virtual communities can be integrated into new product development. We explain how to identify and access online communities and how to interact with its members in order to get valuable input for new product development. This approach we term “Community Based Innovation.” The Audi case illustrates the applicability of the method and underscores the innovative capability of consumers encountered in virtual communities.

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Correspondence to Johann Füller.

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Johann Füller is assistant professor in marketing at Innsbruck University School of Management and board member of HYVE AG, a company specialized in virtual customer integration. He received his Ph.D. in business administration at the Innsbruck University School of Management. Johann holds a degree in mechanical engineering, and industrial engineering and management. His research interests are in the field of innovation creation in online communities and in virtual consumer integration into new product development.

Michael Bartl is member of the management board at the HYVE AG in Munich, Germany, specialised in Customized Innovation and Product Design. He finished his Ph.D. Thesis in Business Administration at the Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management (WHU) obtained his Dipl. Kfm. from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and his B.A. (Hons) from the University of Westminster London.

Holger Ernst is professor at WHU—Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar, Germany where he holds the Chair for Technology and Innovation Management. He is currently visiting professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA. His main research interests are in the fields of technology and innovation management, intellectual property management, new product development and entrepreneurship. He has published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management, International Journal of Management Reviews, Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Research Policy and R&D Management. He consults multiple European organizations in the area of technology, patent and innovation management.

Hans Muhlbacher is Professor of Business Administration at the Innsbruck University School of Management. He has been President of the European Marketing Academy and currently is the Associate Editor for International Business of the Journal of Business Research. All along his career he has extensively taught internationally at business schools such as ESSEC or universities such as Emory University, Tulane University, or Paris Pantheon-Assass. His main research interests are in the field of strategy formation, branding, and innovation.

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Füller, J., Bartl, M., Ernst, H. et al. Community based innovation: How to integrate members of virtual communities into new product development. Electron Commerce Res 6, 57–73 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10660-006-5988-7

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Keywords

  • Online communities
  • User innovations
  • New product development
  • Virtual customer integration