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Investigating issues and challenges for customer involvement in business services innovation

Hanne Westh Nicolajsen (Aalborg University Copenhagen, Ballerup, Denmark)
Ada Scupola (Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 14 June 2011




The paper aims to investigate how customers may contribute to radical innovation in consultancy services and the conditions needed for customers to be involved in such radical service innovations.


The paper uses a qualitative case study approach including rich descriptions based primarily on interviews to investigate an extreme example of successful customer involvement in the development of radical service innovations at Ramboll, a leading Scandinavian engineering consultancy.


The study reveals that customers may be involved in radical innovation processes to different degrees. However, actively involving customers in radical services innovation require a relationship between the customer company and the service provider that might be described as a partnership in which ongoing learning takes place to develop new solutions. The findings reveal that unsolved problems as well as personal trust are key in making customers involved in radical service innovations. Customers involved actively are further characterised by possessing high expertise and extraordinary personal engagement.

Research limitations/implications

As in all case studies, the main limitation of the study is the generalisability of the findings. More cases would help to shed light on the generalisability of the findings across other radical innovation projects within the same company or in similar types of company.


The study contributes with new and detailed insights into both how to involve customers in radical service innovations and the conditions and challenges found in doing so.



Westh Nicolajsen, H. and Scupola, A. (2011), "Investigating issues and challenges for customer involvement in business services innovation", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 26 No. 5, pp. 368-376.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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