Abstract Despite the increasing importance attributed to the involvement of users in the early stages of the new product development process, there have been only limited attempts that comprehensively detail how the user involvement approach is implemented in practice. This knowledge deficit is having consequential effects on user involvement, making its successful implication difficult to achieve as user involvement is heavily dependent on how the involvement process is managed (Magnusson et al., 2003). This study aims to close this knowledge gap by presenting a managerial framework for maximising user involvement in predevelopment activities and in so doing, will obtain implementable guidelines that can be used by organisations to enhance the delivery of innovative and appealing new product concepts. The existing literature on user involvement and relationship marketing were utilised as a starting point to develop an integrated framework. In addition to this, data was gathered from a longitudinal study. Due to the nature of the research, that is, the need to understand a real-life phenomenon in depth, as well as the fact that relatively little knowledge is available on the research topic, it was deemed appropriate to merge aspects from action research with a single interpretive case study approach. This allowed the researcher to become actively involved with the phenomenon under research, hence, facilitating the gathering of a comprehensive collection of qualitative data on the actual interactions that occurred between the manufacturer and user. The key findings of this research illustrated the importance of managing the complex relational dynamics inherent in a close collaborative manufacturer-user relationship. In addition, the findings clearly indicated that the involvement of users does not occur in a vacuum. Rather, the success of the collaboration is influenced by a number of enabling factors, which combine to influence the ways in which the manufacturer and user structure and manage their interactions. The findings further indicate that the benefits of such collaborations may only be enjoyed when the process is managed in an effective and efficient manner, thus the presence of an individual capable of coordinating the process is essential. The thesis concluded with the development of an “integrated framework‟ for managing user involvement at the early stages of the new product development process.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2011|
- New product development