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Juries of PhD: Clémence Cheruy

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Title:User Innovation in Digital Environment
Affiliation:Université de Montpellier
Defense date:2016-11-22
Directors:Isabelle Bourdon
Maître de Conférences HDr, Université de Montpellier

Nassim Belbaly
Professeur, Montpellier Business School

Evaluators:Dwight Merunka
Professeur des Universités, Université d'Aix-Marseille

Christophe Elie-dit-Cosaque
Professeur des Universités, Université de Paris Dauphine

Suffragants:Laure Constanzo
Professor, Southampton Business School

Régis Meissonier
Professeur des Universités, Université de Montpellier

Abstract: Advance in information technology allows companies and customers working together to develop innovations. Firms widely rely on this online co-creation movement through idea generation toolkits while the underlying mechanisms of user-firm interactions become a challenging topic to investigate for both theory and practice. This dissertation, across three articles, aims to provide a better understanding of user innovations determinants, regarding actors, tools and methods. We first build on lead user literature to investigate the actors contributing to external innovations. We identify a need to extend the lead user topic into a crowdsourcing context. Thus our first article proposes a typology of online lead user characteristics allowing firms to use these rare subjects during ideation contests. Second, we deeply explore the notion of tool performance as mean to facilitate innovation. We identify that online tools, such as ideation platform and Open Source Software need to aggregate several conditions leading to promote innovative outputs. We suggest that online toolkits need to promote user interactions and knowledge sharing in order to increase likelihood for firms to grasp better innovative ideas. Finally, we focus on the overall process allowing firms to entirely externalize the idea generation process and methods to improve this process. We propose a theoretical model built on problem-solving and need solution pairs theories showing that depending on the problem itself, the type of users and the desired solutions, firms might to use different methods to introduce a problem to the crowd: to formulate a problem or not. Overall, the findings extend both user innovation and crowdsourcing literature and provide practical implications for virtual search for innovations. The investigations of three levels of analysis: actors, tools and methods is critical for firms since today production of innovative outputs mainly comes from external environment. The three articles of our dissertation first help firms to increase interactions with expert users by proposing on online typology of lead user characteristics. Second, this research could also provide to better understand how to design ideation toolkits to maximize innovative context. Third, our theoretical model may help firms to optimize the search for innovative solutions, by explaining the best way to introduce a problem to the crowd and increase chances to not only benefit from innovative ideas, but also identify the optimal ones.
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