Investigating issues and challenges for customer involvement in business services innovation

Hanne Westh Nicolajsen, Ada Scupola Hugger

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – The paper aims to investigate how customers may contribute to radical innovation in consultancy services and the conditions needed for
customers to be involved in such radical service innovations.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses a qualitative case study approach including rich descriptions based primarily on interviews to
investigate an extreme example of successful customer involvement in the development of radical service innovations at Ramboll, a leading
Scandinavian engineering consultancy.
Findings – The study reveals that customers may be involved in radical innovation processes to different degrees. However, actively involving
customers in radical services innovation require a relationship between the customer company and the service provider that might be described as a
partnership in which ongoing learning takes place to develop new solutions. The findings reveal that unsolved problems as well as personal trust are
key in making customers involved in radical service innovations. Customers involved actively are further characterised by possessing high expertise and
extraordinary personal engagement.
Research limitations/implications – As in all case studies, the main limitation of the study is the generalisability of the findings. More cases would
help to shed light on the generalisability of the findings across other radical innovation projects within the same company or in similar types of
Originality/value – The study contributes with new and detailed insights into both how to involve customers in radical service innovations and the
conditions and challenges found in doing so.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business and Industrial Marketing
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)368-376
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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