How important are social networks for innovation and NPD processes?

According to Roberts and Piller (2016), many companies are not aware of  improving their new product or service development processes by incorporating social networks, which enable them to build deeper relationships between organisations. However, taking advantage of social factors to support innovation and NPD processes is an effective opportunity for the company.

Leenders and Dolfsma (2015) suggest that social networks can be various on the basis of its internally multilevel – from individuals to nations or even geographic regions. Therefore, they classify the analysis into four main levels – ‘networks within organizations, networks that cross the boundary of the organization, interorganizational networks, and networks surrounding the organization.’

In terms of the ‘Intraorganizational Networks and Innovation’ (Leenders and Dolfsma, 2015).  The way that team members work together is a critical factor in their NPD success. And each member as part of a team has his/her role to play in such processes.  Any member of a team should attach importance to professionalism and leadership no matter whether the role he/she plays is officially management leadership or not. And for those who cannot take any responsibility for the decisions of others within a team – they can complete the responsibilities for their own actions.Community interactions in the NPD process can benefit both the creation and evaluation of design ideas (Wu, et al., 2017). Moreover, team members are able to exchange information and create new knowledge and insight, through effective communications that building upon the collective knowledge of others,  (Reagans and Zuckerman, 2001). The NPD innovation ability normally brings together organisations of diverse people from all across an enterprise. Thus, it can be  reinforced by appropriately organised communications among team members.


(Source: An Overview of The Factors of Success for New Product Development, 2018,

Available at:



When it comes to ‘Innovation Networks Crossing Organizational Boundaries’, organizations can involve various kinds of  partners in their NPD processes — such as users, customers, suppliers, etc. As Roberts and Piller (2016) suggest, that ‘Consultants and academics alike have been touting social media as a resource for innovation and new product development — a vehicle for developing customer insights, accessing knowledge, co-creating ideas and concepts with users, and supporting new product launches.’ For instance, Net-a-Porter, the online fashion retailer released its first social network in 2015 for consumers to show their personal style and shop luxury fashion via mobile devices. As they noticed that consumers are increasingly shopping on smartphones or tablets. ‘The application shows how Net-a-Porter is seeking to widen its influence and extract more value out of its more than 6 million unique monthly visitors through’ (Bloomberg, 2015). This case further suggest that social networks driven open innovation activities focused on gathering market insights enhance customer focus directly, while social media driven open innovation activities that garner technical expertise enhance the link between customer focus and NPD performance. (Du et al., 2016) In particular, the utilization of social media technologies like blogs constitutes a widely used and powerful means of inbound open innovation activities, enabling a firm to effectively acquire and leverage external knowledge (Mount and Martinez, 2014; West and Bogers, 2014).

‘Networks and Innovation in Markets’ usually means the networks for individuals. And user networks can be as influencial as inventor networks on innovation and NPD processes (Leenders and Dolfsma, 2015; West and Bogers, 2013). Which means they can measure or develope the innovations due to the extensive open source model. Here are some examples:

(Source: LEGO® Large Creative Brick Box, 2016)

Lego company provides customer this creative box with a wide range of bricks in different colours and types, which allow customers to develop their own open-ended creativity. At the same time, the users also give feedback and inspiration to the company in turn.




In all,  the social network tools discussed above could have a positive impact on the development phase of the NPD process of our MFP project.





An Overview of The Factors of Success for New Product Development (2018) Available at: (Accessed: 3 May 2018).

Bloomberg. (2015) Net-a-Porter Creates Social Network for Mobile Luxury Shopping. Available at: (Accessed: 2 May 2018).

Du, S., Yalcinkaya, G., and Bstieler, L. (2016) ‘Sustainability, social media driven open innovation, and new product development performance’, Product Development & Management Association. 33(S1), pp.55-71.

West, J., and M. Bogers. 2014. Leveraging external sources of innovation: A review of research on open innovation. Journal of Product Innovation Management 31 (4): 814–31.

Wu, J., Kim, A. J., Chen, L., Johnson, K. K. P. (2017) ‘Attitudes toward crowdsourced, community-involved new product development’, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 21(4), pp.453-467.

Leenders, R., T., A., J., and Dolfsma, W., A. (2016) ‘Social networks for innovation and new product development’, Journal of Product Innovation Management, 33(2), pp.123-131.

Lego. (2016) LEGO® Large Creative Brick Box. Available at: (Accessed: 2 May 2018).

Mount, M. P., and M. G. Martinez. 2014. Social media: A tool for open innovation. California Management Review, 56 (4), pp. 124–43.

Moon, F., M. (2014) ‘Social networks in the history of innovation and invention’, New York: Springer.

Roberts, D. L. and Piller, F. T. (2016) ‘Finding the right role for social media in Innovation’, MITSloan Management Review, 57(3), pp. 40-48.

Reagans, R., and E. W. Zuckerman. 2001. ‘Networks, diversity, and produc- tivity: The social capital of corporate R&D teams.’ Organization Science, 12 (4), pp. 502–17.


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One Comment

  1. Posted 30th May 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    The examples you provided for ‘Innovation Networks Crossing Organizational Boundaries’ are interesting. The platforms that can provide interaction between different roles can help to gain mutual benefits. For example, in LEGO and NAP’s cases, companies can know more customers behaviors and find out their needs, so that they can make an innovation or new product design to attract more customers. In the meantime, consumers can gain more convenient services and build up trust to the brands.

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