The emergence of radically new health care technologies: Inventive users as innovation networkers

  • Lettl C
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Besides a large body of research on user innovation, little is known which role users play in the emergence of radically new health care technologies. Such technologies are 'new-to-the-world', highly complex, shift market structures, and require user learning as they often induce significant behaviour changes on side of the users. In a multi-case-study-analysis we identified an 'entrepreneurial' role of inventive users. Those surgeons that were the original inventors of radically new health care technologies established and organized the required innovation networks. They identified relevant partners, formed a network of experts with complementary knowledge bases, and coordinated this network. These innovation networks were required to transform their radically new ideas into first physical prototypes. To better understand the observed phenomenon we analysed factors that might explain this exclusive role. We find that a high problem pressure, an active role of users in the idea generation phase, a high degree of innovativeness of the prospective product, and missing competencies as well as missing resources explain the networking activities of inventive users. The findings shed light on the role of users in the emergence of radically new health care technologies.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Health care technology
  • entrepreneurship
  • innovation networks
  • radical innovation
  • user innovation

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  • ISBN: 0928-7329
  • ISSN: 0928-7329
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-23944489059
  • PUI: 41202296
  • PMID: 15990420
  • SGR: 23944489059


  • Christopher Lettl

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