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When customer involvement hinders/promotes product innovation performance: the concurrent effect of relationship quality and role ambiguity

Najafi Tavani, Saeed ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7401-7823, Zaefarian, Ghasem, Robson, Matthew, Naude, Peter ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4019-0393 and Abbasi, Faramarz (2022) When customer involvement hinders/promotes product innovation performance: the concurrent effect of relationship quality and role ambiguity. Journal of Business Research, 145. pp. 130-143. ISSN 0148-2963

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Abstract

Despite recent attempts to explain the nature of customer involvement, the question of how to curb its negative effect on product innovation has yet to be explored. This study focuses on the association between customer involvement and developers’ product innovation performance, and relies on relationship management theory and the role hazard perspective to explore what levels of relationship quality and role ambiguity, which coexist in partnerships, can turn ineffective customer involvement into a successful strategy. Using a survey of 273 manufacturing firms, we found an inverted U-shaped relationship between customer involvement and product innovation performance, and verified that the interplay of relationship quality and role ambiguity significantly moderate this association. We unpack the role of our moderators by developing a 2 × 2 matrix of high versus low levels of role ambiguity and relationship quality, and exploring the nature of the association between customer involvement and product innovation performance in each quadrant.

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