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Journal cover: Journal of Service Management

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818
Previously published as: International Journal of Service Industry Management

Online from: 1995

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Customer co-creation in service innovation: a matter of communication?

Document Information:
Title:Customer co-creation in service innovation: a matter of communication?
Author(s):Anders Gustafsson, (Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden and BI – Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, Norway), Per Kristensson, (Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden), Lars Witell, (Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden and Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Citation:Anders Gustafsson, Per Kristensson, Lars Witell, (2012) "Customer co-creation in service innovation: a matter of communication?", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 23 Iss: 3, pp.311 - 327
Keywords:Communication, Customer co-creation, Innovation, Pro-active market orientation, Service-Dominant Logic (SDL)
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/09564231211248426 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – Customer co-creation is becoming increasingly popular among companies, and intensive communication with customers is generally seen as a determinant of the success of a new service or product. The purpose of this study is to analyze customer co-creation based on four dimensions of communication – frequency, direction, modality, and content – in order to understand the value of customer co-creation in service innovation. One of the key aims of the study is to investigate whether all dimensions of customer co-creation have an effect on product and market success, and if the effect depends on the degree of innovativeness of a development project.

Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted a study including 334 managers with experience in new service and product development to examine how development projects applied customer co-creation in terms of communication in order to address future customer needs. Data were analyzed using partial least squares (PLS). The first analysis was performed with a sub-sample of 207 development projects regarding incremental innovations. A subsequent analysis was performed with a sub-sample of 77 development projects on radical innovations.

Findings – A total of three of the four dimensions of customer co-creation (frequency, direction, and content) have a positive and equally significant effect on product success when developing incremental innovations. For radical innovations, frequency has a positive effect and content has a negative significant effect on product success. These findings suggest that co-creation and innovation can be combined, but that the choice of methods for co-creation differs depending on whether incremental or radical innovations are developed.

Originality/value – Despite a general consensus that co-creation with customers is beneficial, there is a lack of agreement regarding how and why. The present article addresses this shortcoming and shows that co-creation is largely about communicating with customers in order to understand their future needs. On the other hand, a company working on radical innovations may wish to limit customer input that is too concrete or solution based.

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