Außenansicht der oberen Stockwerke der Executive Academy

Open and User Innovation - General

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Even though open innovation as coined by Henry Chesbrough and user innovation as coined by Eric von Hippel differ in certain assumptions and research foci, both concepts share the understanding that there is a large amount of creativity outside the boundaries of focal firms that the latter can leverage by applying specific methods and that often users and producers are complements in the creation of innovation. In this respect, the institute has for example engaged in research about lead users, the technological impact of independent versus corporate inventors, or organization design- and business model aspects of open and user innovation.


Ritter, Thomas, Lettl, Christopher. 2018. Wider Implications of Business Model Research. Long Range Planning. 51 (1), 1-8.

Hienerth, C.; Lettl, C 2017. Understanding the Nature and Measurement of the Lead User Construct. The Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 34 (1): 3-12.

Kratzer, J.; Lettl, C.; Franke, N.; Gloor, P. 2016: The Social Network Position of Lead Users. The Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 33 (2): 201-216.

Araújo, A.L., Lettl, C.; Ulhoi, J. 2015: Extending organizational antecedents of absorptive capacity: Organizational characteristics that encourage experimentation. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Vol. 90: 269-284.

Berg-Jensen, M.; Hienerth, C.;Lettl, C. 2014: Forecasting the commercial attractiveness of user-generated designs using online data. An empirical study within the LEGO user community. The Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 31:75-93.

Hienerth, C.; Lettl., C.; Keinz, P. 2014: Synergies among producer firms, lead users, and user communities: The case of the LEGO producer-user ecosystem. The Journal of Product Innovation Management. Vol. 31 (4): 848–866.

Keinz, P.; Hienerth, C.; Lettl,C. 2012: Designing the organization for user  innovation. Journal of Organization Design, Vol. 1 (3): 20-36.

Fjeldstad, O. Snow, C., Miles, R., Lettl, C.2012. The architecture of collaboration. Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 33: 734-750.

Hienerth, Christoph, Keinz, Peter, Lettl, Christopher. 2011. Exploring the nature and implementation process of IT-based user-centric business models. Long Range Planning 44 (5-6): 344-374.

Hienerth, C., Lettl, C. 2011: Exploring how peer communities enable lead user innovations to become the industry standard: Community pull effects. The Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 28 (S1): 175-195.

Kratzer, J.; Gemuenden, H.G., Lettl, C. 2011: The organizational design of large R&D collaborations and its effect on time and budget efficiency: The contrast between blueprint and reality. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 58 (2): 295-306.

Snow, C., Fjedstad, O., Lettl, C., Miles, R. 2011: Organizing Continuous Product Development and Commercialization: The Collaborative Community of Firms Model. The Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 28: 3-16.

Miles, R.; Snow, C.; Fjeldstad, O.; Miles, G.; Lettl, C. 2010: Designing Organizations to Meet 21st-Century Opportunities and Challenges. Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 39 (2): 93-103.

Kratzer, J., Lettl, C. 2009: Distinctive roles of lead users and opinion leaders in the social networks of schoolchildren. Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 36 (4): 646-659.

Lettl, C., Rost, K., Von Wartburg, I 2009: Why are some independent inventors 'heroes' and others 'hobbyists'? The moderating role of technological diversity and specialization. Research Policy, Vol. 38: 243-254.

Kratzer, J., Gemuenden, H.G., Lettl, C 2008: Revealing dynamics and consequences of fit and misfit between formal and informal networks in multi-institutional product development collaborations. Research Policy, Vol. 37 (8): 1356-1370.

Lettl, C., Gemuenden, H.G., Hienerth, C. 2008: Exploring how lead users develop radical innovation: Opportunity recognition and exploitation in the field of medical equipment technology. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 55 (2): 219-233.

Lettl, C. 2007: User involvement competence for radical innovation. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, Vol. 24 (1-2): 53-75.

Lettl, C., Herstatt, C., Gemuenden, H.G. 2006: Users’ contributions to radical innovation: Evidence from four cases in the field of medical equipment technology. R&D Management, Vol. 36: 251-272.


Ongoing projects

Technique Innovation

Technique Innovation

When humans aim to develop solutions for their needs, they have two fundamental means at their disposal: developing artifacts or doing something in a skillful, novel way, i.e. developing techniques. We argue that there is a strong complementarity between human techniques and artifacts that drives innovation. An advanced understanding of human techniques is needed in order to investigate the antecedence and consequences of such technique-artifact complementarity. The purpose of this paper is to develop an overarching theory which integrates technique and artifacts as modular components that can yield multiple outcomes. It can explain under which conditions humans rather make changes in artifacts in order to achieve an outcome and when they choose to develop novel techniques. Over time and due to their strong complementarity, changes in techniques will lead to changes in artifacts and vice versa. Insights on the technique-artifact complementarity contribute to research on user innovation, the identity of technological objects and on how human skills get integrated into artifacts.