مدلسازی عملکرد نوآوری های تکنولوژیکی و عوامل مؤثر بر آن :یک جنبه از سرمایه اجتماعی خریدار و فروشنده
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Available online 21 November 2012
This study validates a research model that examines technological innovation performance from the aspect of buyer–seller social capital in business-to-business (B2B) contexts. Drawing on social capital theory, this study postulates that innovation performance is indirectly affected by buyer–seller social capital via the mediation of commitment to innovation and customer knowledge development. The commitment to innovation also has an influence on customer knowledge development. The model examines the data obtained from high-tech firms' personnel in Taiwan. The study's test results indicate that innovation performance is positively influenced by shared norms and trust through the mediation of customer knowledge development. Accordingly, innovation performance is also positively influenced by social interaction and shared norm through the mediation of the commitment to innovation. Lastly, managerial implications and limitations from the empirical findings are provided.
Innovation is a new way of doing something or a new thing that is made useful. It may be accomplished through developing new products, reformulating existing ones, and so on . Given a high failure rate of innovation and the high costs associated with innovation development , maximizing innovation performance is often an important issue of theoretical and managerial interests. An original driver of innovation performance in business-to-business (B2B) contexts is buyer–seller social capital, which refers to the features of business societies that facilitate the social relationship and cooperation between buyers and sellers in industries (e.g., ). Customers (i.e., buyers in B2B settings) have fundamentally changed the dynamics of the market, which has become a forum in which the customers play an active role in the innovation of sellers (e.g., R&D teams) through co-design or co-production . This phenomenon suggests the importance of buyer–seller social capital (e.g., between R&D teams and their buyers in B2B contexts) in the innovation development processes. For example, previous research indicates that customer involvement can substantially serve as a vehicle for sellers' innovation development . Over the last decade or so, the concept of social capital has captured the attention of sociologists (e.g.,  and ) and organizational theorists (e.g., ) as a way of understanding why people in social communities, organizations, and industry clusters share information and ideas with each other, even when there is no legal obligation or expectations of personal gains from doing so. Social capital is important in building intellectual capital of work groups or organizations  and . Based on the social capital fostered between customers and innovation developers, an understanding of customer experiences, perception, demand, expectations, and preferences (namely, customer knowledge) can be effectively obtained by the innovation developers such as R&D teams or work groups  and , eventually enhancing the teams' innovation performance . Even if social capital ultimately leads to improve such outcome as innovation performance, the strength and nature of this association through its potential mediators still remain underexamined. This study proposes two critical mediators, commitment to innovation and customer knowledge development, which fully mediate the relationship between buyer–seller social capital and innovation performance in B2B contexts. For instance, some studies argue a positive relationship between the vendor's levels of customer interaction (i.e., a form of buyer–seller social capital) and the vendor knowledge of the customer (i.e., customer knowledge) . Other studies further indicate that the greater the knowledge possessed by sellers for how customers think of a product (i.e., customer knowledge), the greater the likelihood there will be for a successful new product development (i.e., innovation performance) . Similarly, strong buyer–seller social capital is likely to encourage sellers to fulfill their obligations towards innovation development (i.e., commitment to innovation), consequently enhancing their innovation performance. Collectively, these studies together imply an indirect linkage between social capital and innovation performance via the mediation of customer knowledge development. Either commitment to innovation or customer knowledge development has been respectively included in previous research as a predictor of innovation processes (e.g., ,  and ), but none of the previous research has tried to simultaneously take both into account for explaining innovation outcomes in B2B contexts. Without a thorough evaluation about the influence of buyer–seller social capital on innovation performance and the mediators (i.e., commitment and customer knowledge development) in B2B settings, our understanding of these constructs will remain limited, and organizational initiatives directed at building buyer–vendor social capital will remain unjustifiable and therefore based on blind faith. Hence, this study's purpose is to clarify the indirect relationship between buyer–seller social capital and innovation performance via the two mediators, which has not yet been previously explored. This study differs from previous studies in two important ways. First, while most studies have applied inter-employee social capital to examine performance issues in interorganizational or intraorganizational settings, few have tried to examine in-depth the role of buyer–seller social capital in influencing innovation performance in which the social capital in B2B contexts is fostered beyond the boundary of individual members. This study focuses on the social capital between work teams and their customers (i.e., buyer–seller social capital), substantially complementing previous studies (e.g., individuals' social capital). Understanding buyer–seller social capital is helpful for innovators (i.e., sellers) to leverage such social capital to effectively improve their innovation performance, because today's customers are likely to affect the success or failure of the innovation . Second, previous research related to customer knowledge development (e.g., ) has examined its determinants purely from the aspect of organizational in-house action or project characteristics. Nevertheless, it is insufficient for truly understanding customer knowledge development when potential variables related to customers (e.g., buyer–seller social interaction) have not been taken into consideration. This study complements previous research by evaluating the influence of buyer–seller social capital on customer knowledge development, providing supplementary insights about how to improve the customer knowledge development.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
4.1. Implications for research The study was one of the few to jointly examine the role of buyer–seller social capital and customer knowledge considerations in a single holistic model. As people are social beings, buyer–seller social capital is likely to shape their customer knowledge development and commitment during the stages of innovation, consequently impacting innovation performance. Our empirical analysis demonstrated that when three social capital dimensions are taken into account, the commitment to innovation and customer knowledge development become key mediators in influencing innovation performance, given that there is no direct relationship between social capital and innovation performance. These effects point to a complex and intricate pattern of relationships between buyer–seller social capital and the innovation performance, which may be the subject of more detailed investigations in the near future. Nevertheless, the triplet of buyer–seller social capital, which seems very plausible from logical and empirical perspectives, is not reflected in most contemporary models of innovation performance. This offers a unique opportunity for theory building in this area. An interesting finding of our study that is not evident from previous studies is the significant and indirect effects of buyer–seller social capital (rather than inter-employee social capital) on innovation performance. Although we found evidence for direct effects of the social capital on commitment to innovation and customer knowledge development, such direct effects may not directly affect innovation performance. Empirical evidence of these indirect effects on innovation performance, as observed in this study, is all the more reason why we should not examine the effects of buyer–seller social capital, commitment, and customer knowledge in isolation, but rather in conjunction within a larger holistic model of innovation performance. While previous research on buyer–seller relationship has attempted to explain and predict innovation outcomes with the implicit presumption that, for example, social interaction and trust are beneficial for organizational work, our study further examines the nature and magnitude of the specific relationship between buyers and sellers (i.e., social interaction, norms, or trust) and the organizational work (i.e., innovation performance). In summary, our findings demonstrate that commitment to innovation and customer knowledge development play two dominating roles amid buyer–seller social capital and innovation performance, thereby serving as an important bridge between the social capital and innovation performance streams of organizational research. 4.2. Implications for practice Our analysis demonstrated that innovation performance of knowledge workers can be improved indirectly by facilitating three social capital dimensions between them and their customers via the mediation of commitment to innovation and customer knowledge development. These three-way tracks between social capital and innovation performance through two mediators, albeit unexplored in prior research, present unique challenges for organizational managers interested in improving innovation performance of their employees. Hence, managers must strive to build a culture of fostering buyer–seller social capital within their organizations, by training the organizational members to build social interaction, shared norms, and trust among their customers, while also simultaneously communicating the benefits of commitment to innovation and customer knowledge development to the members. Given the multiplicative nature of the effects of the three social capital dimensions, organizational initiatives that are directed at only building either commitment to innovation or customer knowledge development are more likely to be of limited help in enabling innovation performance, than those that address the three social capital dimensions concurrently. Second, the relationships between buyer–seller social capital, innovation performance, and their mediators are even more critical and challenging for entrepreneurial (or innovation) organizations where knowledge workers must possess a strong commitment to innovation and employ customer knowledge to create innovation products or services. Many specialized organizational tasks, such as new product design, often cannot be accomplished purely by sellers without knowing what the customers need and thus require the collective effort and knowledge among knowledge workers and their customers. Specifically, the significant influence of social interaction and shared norms on customer knowledge development (H5 and H7) suggests that management should provide mentoring that sharpens employees' communication skills for serving customers, consequently obtaining better market knowledge from their customers. Accordingly, the significant influence of social norms and trust on commitment to innovation suggests that management should encourage employees to use general vocabulary (rather than terminology) during contact with customers and to engage the responsibility with empathy for any wrongdoing in order to win customer trust in the long run, eventually improving innovation performance. In conclusion, this study proposed a theoretical model of innovation performance, by integrating the triple perspectives of buyer–seller social capital and their mediating considerations (in the form of commitment to innovation and customer knowledge development). Our hypothesized model was empirically validated using a field survey of professional workers at IT firms in Taiwan. Since relatively few studies exist on buyer–seller social capital and customer knowledge development within a context of innovation, we hope that our research serves as a first step toward building a comprehensive body of knowledge in this area. 4.3. Limitations of the study As with any empirical study, this study suffers from two major limitations. The first limitation of this study is its generalizability. Due to the highly delimited nature of our subject sample (personnel in IT organizations in Taiwan), inferences drawn from our data may not be fully generalizable to employees in organizations of other types (e.g., financial industry) or those from other countries. Second, practical empirical considerations relating to field-based data collection restricted the set of variables examined in this study to a cross-sectional study. There may be other predictors of innovation performance, such as organizational climates, firm size, and so on, that may be important yet excluded from this study. Future research should identify these variables and consider their inclusion in empirical models as independent, moderating, or control variables, and also attempt to examine the hypothesized relationships using longitudinal data.