Synergies among Producer Firms, Lead Users, and User Communities: The Case of the LEGO Producer-User Ecosystem

Hienerth, Christoph and Lettl, Christopher and Keinz, Peter (2014) Synergies among Producer Firms, Lead Users, and User Communities: The Case of the LEGO Producer-User Ecosystem. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31 (4). pp. 848-866. ISSN 1540-5885


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While many firms today proactively involve users in their new product development efforts using a wide variety of methods such as the lead user method, firm-hosted user communities, or mass customization toolkits, some pioneering firms are experimenting with the creation of sustainable producer-user ecosystems designed for the continuous exploration and exploitation of business opportunities. In this paper, the functioning of such ecosystems is studied with particular emphasis on the synergies they can yield. Based on an explorative and longitudinal multiple case study design, the producer-user ecosystem of the firm LEGO is analyzed, and three main actors in the ecosystem are identified: entrepreneurial lead users who aim to start their own businesses, a vibrant user community, and the LEGO company as the focal producer firm and facilitator for multiple user-to-user and user-to-producer interactions. Our study reveals three kinds of synergies: (1) reduced risk for entrepreneurial lead users and the focal producer firm, (2) the extension of the design space of the focal producer firm's products, and (3) the creation of buzz within the user community. Finally, the theoretical and managerial implications of our findings for innovation researchers and practitioners are discussed. (authors' abstract)

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Departments > Strategy and Innovation
Version of the Document: Published
Variance from Published Version: None
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2014 10:19
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2015 23:04
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