Developing firm capabilities to utilise social media for the fuzzy front end of innovation

Naheed Bashir, Khaleel Malik

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Despite the growing importance of using social media to leverage external knowledge for new product development (NPD) in innovation, few studies have examined firm capabilities that underpin this knowledge acquisition route. This paper provides an empirical examination of firm capabilities that leverage external knowledge, utilising social media for the fuzzy-front-end (FFE) phase of the NPD process. With evidence from 27 interviews conducted with executives’ from large fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms, a thematic analysis using NVivo 12 is used to develop a conceptual framework capturing the key capabilities for using social media in the FFE. The findings reveal that the utilisation of social media is an ongoing process of experimenting with new technologies within the NPD phase of a firm’s innovation efforts. Hence, the results of the study suggest FMCG firms may consider developing the following capabilities to help effectively acquire external knowledge via social media: use staff specialised in social media for external knowledge identification; dedicate an independent department for social media knowledge acquisition; and encourage an open innovation culture.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnology Analysis and Strategic Management
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021


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