Users Ability to Share Knowledge when Integrated in New Product Development - Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Industry

Marie Smed, Søren Salomo, Carsten Schultz, Kenneth A. Getz

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In technological intensive industries knowledge input from both internal and external sources is crucial (Ahuja 2000,Gulati ét al. 2000, Von Hippel 2005; Thompson 2005). A highly well informed and increasingly recognized source ofknowledge is users of these technological products. By establishing and maintaining a close network with key users,firms can tap into unique knowledge, which can be useful in product development processes (Urban and von Hippel1988, Shah 2000, Rothwell 1994). Previous studies have here pointed to the professional capabilities of users, whichmay generate a community of common understanding and professional frame of reference with in-house industry staff,which promote knowledge sharing (Wenger and Snyder 2000, Lynn ét. al. 1996, Franke and Shah 2002, Gulati 1998).This stream of literature acknowledge industry?s possibilities to tap into specific knowledge, there is however a gab inexploring users competences beyond their profession. Especially in down stream product development users maygenerate general experiences about process optimization from inclusion in the development process. This study aims atmeeting this gab by exploring users ability to share knowledge about their professional experiences, but also concerningissues, which go beyond their pre-defined role. The overall research question for this paper is therefore: Can usersability to share their knowledge obtained in product development integration be differentiated by topic area? Are topicareas related to their own professional frame of reference easier transferred, than more general experiences about thedevelopment process?The overall research question studied further by some in-depth sub-questions related to relationship between user andproducer: How is users knowledge sharing ability influenced by: (1) their job role, (2) their personal relations with theproducer, (3) their possibilities to have continuous relations with the producer and lastly (4) the means of communicationbetween user and producer.This study thereby contributes with increased understanding of users role in down stream product development, andexpand previous perspectives on utilization of highly skilled users, when integrated in development processes.In this study we apply a unique dataset developed in collaboration with Center for the Study of Drug Development(CSDD) at TUFT University, Boston. We explore the collaboration between pharmaceutical new drug developers andthe medical sites, whom are the future users of new drugs. In collaboration with TUFT CSDD a questionnaire surveywere developed aiming at global network of medical sites participating in clinical trials where new drugs are testedbefore marked launch.To analyze the research question the Rasch scale modeling (Rasch 1980, Bond and Fox 2001), which is part of the itemresponse theory (IRT) (Singh 2004, de Jong ét al. 2008) is applied. The results of the Rasch model analysis reveal avariation in the difficulty of transferring knowledge by topic area. Users ability to share knowledge related directly to theirmedical profession is higher, than their ability to share knowledge concerning the general management of the trialprocess.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2012
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventDRUID Academy Conference 2012 - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jan 201221 Jan 2012


ConferenceDRUID Academy Conference 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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