User-entrepreneurship and innovation: Does customer involvement and learning orientation matter?


Marketing and Professional Sales

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Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the process of innovation in firms founded by user-entrepreneurs. It also empirically investigates the role of customer involvement and user-entrepreneurs’ learning goal orientation in the innovation process. Design/methodology/approach: A survey design is used to collect data from entrepreneurs managing small businesses. A total of 255 entrepreneurs responded to the survey questionnaire. The partial least square structural equation model was used to test the measurement and structural model. Findings: Results suggest a positive association of user-entrepreneurship with innovation and customer involvement. Results also confirmed that customer involvement mediates the relationship between user-entrepreneurship and innovation. In addition, results suggest that the higher learning orientation (LO) of user-entrepreneurs plays a vital role in innovation by strengthening the relationship between user-entrepreneurship and customer involvement. Research limitations/implications: The study focuses on small entrepreneurial firms with less than equal to or less than 250 employees. The results may not be generalizable to larger user-entrepreneurial firms. Also, this study is based on American entrepreneurs. Therefore, the results may not be generalizable to other countries. Practical implications: Evidence for the role of customer involvement and LO in the innovation process can be used by entrepreneurs and small business owners in hiring and training decisions. Also, the findings suggest the important role played by customers in the innovation process. Firms can use this insight to involve their customers in the product development process to secure better innovation outcomes. Originality/value: This study contributes to the innovation and entrepreneurship literature by emphasizing the critical role of customer networks in user-entrepreneurs’ innovation performance. It offers a process model that offers empirical evidence supporting the positive role of customer involvement in new ventures. It highlights the role of the LO of user-entrepreneurs in the customer engagement process.

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Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing

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