The purpose of this paper is to investigate the microfoundations of customer knowledge acquisition during logistics innovation development. Specifically, the authors explore the activities and behaviors of employees with customer contact (i.e. boundary-spanning employees (BSEs)) to deepen and broaden their knowledge about customers for the development of innovations.
Qualitative research based on multiple semi-structured interviews with BSEs of six logistics service providers was conducted to explore the deepening and broadening of customer knowledge during innovation development. Data were analyzed for similarities and differences in BSEs’ knowledge acquisition and their interactions with customers across six innovations.
Results show that BSEs engage sequentially in deepening and broadening customer knowledge throughout the logistics innovation development process. Yet, the specific sequence depends on the type of innovation developed (customized vs standardized). Customer knowledge tends to be deepened in one-on-one interactions, while knowledge tends to be broadened in interactions with numerous and diverse customer firm members.
In general, this paper contributes to the understanding of the individuals’ behaviors underlying organization-level phenomena, such as logistics service providers’ customer knowledge acquisition.
Findings illustrate that BSEs are well advised to concentrate on either deepening or broadening their customer knowledge in a single stage of the logistics innovation development process but switch between these two knowledge acquisition approaches from stage-to-stage to leverage customer interaction.
By investigating firms’ customer knowledge acquisition at the individual level, this paper addresses the calls in the literature for more research into the microfoundations of organizational phenomena.
da Mota Pedrosa, A., Blazevic, V. and Jasmand, C. (2015), "Logistics innovation development: a micro-level perspective", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 313-332. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-12-2014-0289
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