Users can be a prolific source of innovation. Nonetheless, many firms remain reluctant to integrate users into new product development. This is partly attributable to an insufficient understanding of ways in which firms can influence user activity to reap its benefits while reducing potentially adverse side-effects. This paper investigates by which instruments firms can affect the cost and benefit expectations that users attach to innovation activities and thereby influence user activity in terms of its level and focus. The analysis relies on prior empirical findings on purposive user guidance by manufacturers. We conclude that companies can indeed affect user activity and advance propositions on optimal strategies. Our findings can inform scholarly debate on the contingency factors of user innovation activity.
Keywords: user innovation, community-based innovation, costs, benefits, contingency factors, marketing effect, innovation effect, manufacturer strategy, consistency, innovation management, open innovation