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Is There a Doctor in the House? Expert Product Users, Organizational Roles, and Innovation

Katila, R; Thatchenkery, S; Christensen, MQ; Zenios, S; (2017) Is There a Doctor in the House? Expert Product Users, Organizational Roles, and Innovation. Academy of Management Journal , 60 (6) pp. 2415-2437. 10.5465/amj.2014.1112. Green open access

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Abstract

We explore the impact on innovation that professional end-users of a product have as inventors, executives, and board members in a young organization. In contrast to prior literature, which has emphasized technology roles, we put the spotlight on executive and governance roles that many professional users take in young firms. Using an extensive custom-collected dataset of 231 surgical instrument ventures over a 25-year period combined with qualitative fieldwork, we find that professional physician-users (surgeons) strengthen innovation in some roles but block it in others. Surgeons are related with the increase in a firm’s innovation when they take a technology role as inventors, and particularly when they take a governance role on the young firm’s board. However, despite their frequent involvement in executive roles, surgeon-executives are less likely to be helpful, and especially likely to block innovation as chief executives. Our results emphasize professional users as a critical external dependency for a young firm’s innovation, but show that a mismatch with a particular organizational role may have unanticipated negative effects on innovation. A key finding is that users are more helpful in suggesting a broad variety of solutions to the firm’s innovation problems but less helpful in selecting the best ones for the organization to pursue. Our findings have implications for research on evolutionary perspective on user innovation, organizational roles in young firms, and entrepreneurial policy.

Type: Article
Title: Is There a Doctor in the House? Expert Product Users, Organizational Roles, and Innovation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5465/amj.2014.1112
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amj.2014.1112
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Social Sciences, Business, Management, Business & Economics, RESEARCH-AND-DEVELOPMENT, TECHNOLOGICAL-INNOVATION, KNOWLEDGE NETWORKS, FIRM PERFORMANCE, COUNT DATA, TRADE-OFF, SEARCH, INDUSTRY, MODELS, COMMUNITIES
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > UCL School of Management
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10058982
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