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Paper info: Users as inventors and developers of radical innovation


Users as inventors and developers of radical innovation


Christopher Lettl, Cornelius Herstatt and Hans-Georg Gemünden

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 20th IMP-conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2004.


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To explore the role of users in radical innovation projects this study focuses on the question whether users are able to actively contribute to the development of radical innovations and which usercharacteristics are critical hereby. A multiple case study analysis was conducted in the field of medical technology. Five radical innovation projects were selected including medical robots and computerassisted navigation systems.The case studies reveal that users with a unique set of characteristics can play a dominant role in the innovation process of radical innovation. These users have a high motivation toward new solutions, possess diverse competencies and are embedded into a very supportive context. Manufacturers that took over the ideas and prototypes of the inventive users benefited significantly. Based on the empirical findings the recommendation for manufacturers is to systematically leverage specific users for the development of radical innovation.