Title: Generating innovation opportunities: how to explore and absorb customer knowledge

Authors: Anne Kallio; Carsten Bergenholtz

Addresses: Lahti School of Innovation, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Saimaankatu 11, FI-15140 Lahti, Finland. ' CORE, Department of Management, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University, Haslegaardsvej 10, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark

Abstract: This study examines how a company can generate innovation opportunities by exploring and absorbing customer knowledge. The exploration can be performed via an in-depth or broad search for resources beyond organisational boundaries. Salespeople are an essential channel for an in-depth search in relation to customers, since salespeople possess rich knowledge of the customers. In order to be useful, such knowledge has to be absorbed in the company. Most of the literature on absorptive capacity has focused on R&D, while less focus has been placed on studying the role of individuals in the development of integrative practices. This paper demonstrates how a community of practice can enable organisations to move from potential absorptive capacity to realised absorptive capacity.

Keywords: knowledge exploration; absorptive capacities; communities of practice; customer knowledge; sales; action research; actionable knowledge; innovation opportunities; opportunity generation; in-depth searches; broad searches; organisational boundaries; salespeople; customers; R&D; research and development; individuals; integrative practices; innovation management; technology management; innovation enhancement; innovation environments.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2011.042981

International Journal of Technology Management, 2011 Vol.56 No.2/3/4, pp.172 - 187

Published online: 06 Apr 2013 *

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