Employees as user innovators and idea management systems

Estimated reading time: 2-4 minutes. A group of researchers focused employees as user innovators.


Employees as user innovators


Employees as user innovators

Previous research has studied so-called ‘user innovation’. There, they have focused on organizations as potential user innovators. With user innovators, it is meant that you create an innovation for your own use in any form. However, there is some knowledge about individual contributions from employees who create innovation. This to address their own specific needs within their respective organizations. One study investigated just this. The study examined proposals for innovations provided by employees through an idea management system.



The researchers found that employees’ ideas aimed at solving their own specific needs are more likely than other proposals to be implemented in practice in the organization, regardless of the level of development of ideas. Furthermore, the researchers found that the origin of the ideas is a better predictor of the probability of assumption than the level of development of ideas. The researchers also found that employees who are user innovators more often contribute suggestions for brand new products and services. This in addition to the fact that they contribute to incremental process improvements.


Practical implications

The biggest challenge of running idea management systems is to actually generate good ideas. The results of this study have important practical implications for managers and leaders who work with idea management and innovation, and more specifically for organizations that have implemented idea management systems.


The researchers found that innovation proposals relating to projects where the employees themselves are involved and where the employee has expectations of a personal benefit in any respect, are more likely to challenge existing processes and structures than other ideas.


The result of the study thus suggests that identifying ideas from employees who are user innovators can help improve the overall outcome of the organization’s idea management system. In addition, using ID management systems and motivating employees to contribute their user innovations, organizations can get a tool that allows them to generate more radical products and services. In addition, by focusing on users contributing to increasing the proportion of successful submissions, organizations can ensure a sustainable idea management system and justify the cost of running it.



Zejnilovic, L, Oliveira, P., Veloso, FM., 2012. Employees as user innovators: An empirical investigation of an idea management system. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 43rd Decision Sciences Institute Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Available on: http://papers.ssrn.com/userdriven-innovation

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