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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2011
Thesis number: 12722
New product development in professional communities: using members to help innovate
Author: Yang, Yiming
Title: New product development in professional communities: using members to help innovate
Year: 2011  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; tuotekehitys; product development; uudet tuotteet; new products; innovaatiot; innovations; yhteisöt; communities; virtuaalitodellisuus; virtual reality; asiakkaat; customers
Pages: 106
Full text:
» hse_ethesis_12722.pdf pdf  size:2 MB (1619414)
Key terms: New product development (NPD), virtual communities, customer as co-creators

The purpose of this research is to study how firms can use professional communities to support their new product development activities and processes in their business . The central constructs whose relationships have been explored are customer participation and new product development in the setting of professional virtual communities. The processes of managing the virtual community and the relationship between a firm with its virtual community and its community members are also studied in this research.


The empirical part of this study was conducted through three case studies. The data for three virtual professional communities were gathered using the methods of netnography and interviews. Data collected included 13 pages of field notes based on observations of the communities, 26 saved community discussions, 16 blog posts, three ExamCard, three best practice, three case study and 6 transcribed interviews.. The analysis was carried out using the method of grounded theory introduced by Stauss and Corbin (1993) in order to build a holistic picture of the phenomena in question.


The findings of this research suggest that firms have to consider various aspects when designing their virtual communities, including customer roles and new product development phases, member related issues, interaction related issues and integration related issues. In general, firms seemed to put much more focus on building the virtual community to the needs of the target group rather than considering how the community is part of the overall organization. The community is often treated as an autonomous unit separated from the actual business operations of the firm, and the links to the business of the firm is quite weak.
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