The purpose of the paper is to create an increased understanding of new product development processes concerning customer involvement. A relationship marketing perspective has provided the theoretical basis, allowing a new perspective.
A qualitative, multiple case study, based on in‐depth interviews in three small companies and three large, multinational enterprises has been carried out.
The findings indicate the value of cross‐functional teams and customer involvement. The use of formal methods for customer involvement, however, is found to be limited. Some creative ways of using cross‐functional teams in small companies are described.
A framework for customer involvement in new product development, based on the levels of relationships, is proposed. This framework conceptualises the customer‐involvement options identified in earlier research, based on the levels of relationship as defined in relationship marketing theory.
The framework gives directions how product development in various levels of relations could be handled. The paper also gives examples of how to organise cross‐functional teams.
The framework developed in the paper is useful for the theoretical conceptualisation of the area. In addition, it provides a structured base for future studies.
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