ABSTRACT

The interest towards the role of user communities in innovation processes has grown

among scholars and practitioners. The need to know more about the contribution of user

communities in innovation processes stems from the increased visibility of these collective

actors in several industries-from software to sporting equipment and many others. It has

been widely shown that many consumers are far from being passive recipients of products

and technical solutions developed by companies. They are rather active contributors in the

process of new product development, providing valuable and useful technical knowledge,

which can be effectively deployed in innovation processes (Nambisan, 2002; von Hippel

and von Krogh, 2003). What determined the rise in the interest towards user intervention in

innovation in the last 10 years is the scale of distributed innovation processes participated in

by users that information and communication technologies (ICT) have made possible

(Hagel and Armstrong, 1998; von Hippel, 2005). Web and collaborative technologies allow

individuals scattered in distant geographical areas to gather in specific online websites and

collaboration areas and allow for the enactment of a potentially global pool of intelligence

and capabilities (Sproull and Kiesler, 1991; Rheingold, 2002).