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Supplier Innovation Push: Timing Strategies and Best Practices: A number of motivating and moderating factors influence suppliers' decisions to involve customers in the innovation process.

Suppliers are frequently recognized as a source of innovation for buying firms. Many firms tap into supplier innovation by giving suppliers access to their innovation roadmaps or by integrating them into their new product development process; this buyer-initiated approach is known as innovation pull (Wagner and Bode 2014). Pulling innovations from suppliers allows firms to focus on innovations that fall within their core competencies. However, innovations initiated by buying firms are often subject to exclusivity agreements and typically are customized to the needs of the buying firm; as a result, these innovations generally offer limited market opportunities for suppliers and tend to produce increased dependency on the buying firm. For this reason, many suppliers engage in an innovation push strategy--developing new products on their own and pushing them to a selected customer at some point in the development process. Innovation push can mitigate the disadvantages of innovation pull while allowing suppliers to access the innovation competencies of buying firms and strengthening the supplier's relationship with buying firms.

However, to succeed at innovation push, suppliers need to know when and how to share innovations with a buying firm. Pushing an innovation too early can reduce returns for the supplier as profits typically are shared among the project partners, and, at the same time, collaborative innovation projects often require more time and financial resources than internal projects (Petersen, Handheld, and Ragatz 2005). On the other hand, pushing an innovation too late could leave the supplier with a product that does not meet customers' needs.

Another important aspect of the innovation push process is the role of the firm that receives the innovation. The buying firm needs the capabilities to manage these incoming innovations and to collaborate on joint development projects (West and Bogers 2014), and the supplierinnovator must have an appropriate relationship with the buyer. Mutual trust, commitment, and effective communication are prerequisites for success in collaborative new product development projects (Slowinski et al. 2015).

Thus, there are a number of factors that determine the likelihood of success for an innovation push project, but little information is available about the relative importance of these factors in choosing the timing and target for an innovation push initiative. To close this gap, we conducted a qualitative case study to identify the various factors that shape suppliers' innovation push decisions. The findings can help suppliers choose the right customer for an innovation by identifying the characteristics of appropriate potential buying firms and analyzing how the relationship to the buying firm affects the likelihood of a successful innovation push.

Collaborative Product Development

In today's business environment, firms must innovate constantly to satisfy customer expectations and remain competitive (Jones, Cope, and Kintz 2016). Thus, firms need well-defined processes to manage the spectrum of activities that make up the product development process, from idea generation to market introduction (Trott 2017). For most firms, the innovation process can be divided into three stages: the fuzzy front end, product development, and commercialization (Koen et al. 2002). At each of these stages, collaborations with external parties, including suppliers and customers, can enhance innovation capability (West and Bogers 2014).

In fact, there is compelling empirical evidence that supplier innovativeness improves a buying firm's innovation strategy and thereby enhances its total innovation performance (Oke, Prajogo, and Jayaram 2013). To take advantage of supplier innovation, buying firms must identify and select innovative suppliers, effectively integrate them into their product development process, and then collaborate with them to develop and commercialize an innovation. However, the process is not one-sided; Schiele (2012) points out that innovative suppliers have become increasingly selective about which customers they cooperate with. Thus, if they wish to become preferred partners for their innovative suppliers, buying firms must find ways to increase their attractiveness to potential supplier innovation partners, for example through building trustful and collaborative relationships (Henke and Zhang 2010).

The involvement of customers in product development can also enhance innovation capabilities, for both suppliers and buyers. Cui and Wu (2017) point out that although customers have traditionally been seen primarily as a source of information to validate market needs, they are increasingly becoming co-developers who bring their needs and possible solutions to companies. The involvement of customers in the product development process can help generate creative ideas, improve product performance and variety, reduce the risk of a new product not fitting the needs of the market, and generally make the development process more effective (Lau, Tang, and Yam 2010; Noordhoff et al. 2011). Innovating supplier firms seek all of these advantages when they engage in innovation push efforts.

However, customer involvement does not come without drawbacks. For example, customers typically prefer incremental improvements, so their input may impede the progress of radical innovations (Gruner and Homburg 2000). Moreover, involving customers requires time and effort (Lilien et al. 2002) and complicates the management of the development process (Nambisan 2002). In addition, in the earlier stages of development, customer involvement may make it difficult to protect intellectual property from customer opportunism (Noordhoff et al. 2011). For example, customers could use a supplier's ideas to develop an innovation on their own, without the need to share profits.

Given these factors, suppliers must take great care when deciding which customers to involve in product development, and when. Ideal customers for joint development projects are typically those with whom the supplier already has long-term relationships built on mutual trust, effective conflict resolution strategies, shared commitment to common goals, top-management support in both organizations, effective communication, and compatible cultures (Petersen, Handheld, and Ragatz 2005; Hoegl and Wagner 2005; Slowinski et al. 2015; Yan and Wagner 2017). Involving the wrong customer too early can leave the supplier with only the drawbacks of customer involvement. However, postponing or eliminating customer involvement for all new products can lead to products that do not meet market requirements. Consequently, there should be an optimal timing for pushing an innovation to a customer, as well as a set of criteria for identifying likely partners to receive the push.

While the positive effects of customer involvement and the organizational prerequisites to make these projects successful have been explored, it remains unclear at which point in a product's development suppliers should approach customer firms. To answer this critical question, we explore the motivations behind suppliers' timing decisions and investigate how suppliers proceed to involve customer firms in new product development.

The Study

We used a multiple case study approach (Miles and Huberman 1994; Yin 2014) to investigate when and how suppliers should push innovations to buying firms. The primary source of data was 18 interviews with individuals in 15 case firms (7 buying firms, 6 supplier firms, 2 consulting firms). Including data from firms on all sides of the push process allowed us to triangulate the data and investigate our research question from three different perspectives. The case firms were selected based on their propensity either to push innovations (suppliers) or to receive pushed innovations (buyers). The consultants were selected due to their experience in working on innovation push projects. To increase the generalizability of our findings, we selected companies that differ in size and operate in different industries (Table 1). The participating companies were headquartered in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Each interview was conducted using a semi-structured interview instrument aiming to analyze real examples of innovation push projects. We asked the suppliers about their motivation for pushing an innovation, the factors that affected the decision about when to push a project, and the challenges they faced in involving customers in the development process. The buyers provided recent examples of innovations that were triggered by engagement with their suppliers. Here, we asked why, in their view, some pushed innovations were more successful than others and at which stage they prefer to get involved. Finally, the consultants provided insight about successful and unsuccessful innovation push projects from a neutral position.

Most interviews were conducted in person on company premises. Interviewees received a document detailing the research project and its objectives ahead of the interview. In addition, we promised interviewees complete anonymity and confidentiality. The interviews, which lasted between 38 and 112 minutes, were conducted between September 2014 and January 2015. Each interview was audio recorded, transcribed, and coded.

Interview data were collected and analyzed in an iterative process, which allowed us to adjust the case study design as the research proceeded. Thus, the interview guidelines were slightly modified and updated after every interview, to reflect learning from previous interviews. Coding began with an open code structure; each interview was coded as it occurred and new codes were added for upcoming interviews. In this way, new insights helped refine ongoing analysis (Eisenhardt 1989). When new codes ceased to emerge from interviews, we coded all interviews again, using the final coding structure.

We supplemented interview data with additional documentary data from companies (internal company documents and presentations), as well as publicly available information about, for instance, company revenues and workforce size. All of this data was collated with the interview data in a detailed case description supported by key quotations from interviewees. These within-case descriptions served as the foundation for the cross-case analysis, in which the findings from the cases were compared and generalized.

Results

Our findings show that supplier innovation push can be a viable alternative to the innovation pull approach, which is currently the standard practice in most industries. The suppliers in our sample emphasized the benefits of the push strategy, including the opportunities it can provide to generate future business with higher margins, to improve their reputation, and to strengthen their position in negotiations with buyers. Most buyers in our study also saw clear opportunities in pushed innovations, such as the potential to differentiate themselves from competitors using supplier-pushed innovations, but they also raised concerns about the push behavior of some suppliers. Buying firms complained that suppliers offered innovations that did not fit the buyer's current needs or were vague about the potential of the innovations offered. Sometimes, buyers told us, suppliers proposed solutions for problems that did not even exist; evaluating these innovations is time-consuming, buyers said, and they are rarely adopted. Suppliers admitted that they lack a clear innovation push strategy, which results in ineffectively pushed innovations, poorly timed push efforts, or push efforts directed at the wrong customers. By analyzing examples of innovation push projects provided by our interviewees, we identified four motivational and two moderating factors that should shape suppliers' decisions about the timing and target of innovation push efforts.

Timing

We asked supplier firm interviewees about the timing of customer inclusion in their firms. Suppliers who innovate can decide to approach buying firms with their innovations at the front end, when they have only an idea for a product that still needs to be evaluated and refined; at the development stage, when they can present a concept, prototype, or simulation model for the buying firm to evaluate and offer feedback on; or at the commercialization stage, when the supplier has a finished product to offer.

In our study, the majority of supplier firms (S8, S9, SI 1, S12) reported approaching buying firms during the new product development stage; only one (S10) reported pushing innovations at the fuzzy front end (Figure 1). The remaining firm, S13, reported that buying firms pull the majority of their product development projects and they did not engage in push. We decided to keep this firm in our sample because it provided insights about the challenges of supplier innovation push, such as higher market risks, R&D resource allocation, and buyer firms' unfamiliarity with push innovation. The approach of the other suppliers in our sample matched the recommendations of the consultants, both of whom reported strongly recommending that their supplier firm clients approach potential buying-firm partners at the development stage at the latest. The consultant interviewees see considerable risks that supplier innovations will not meet market needs if the approach happens later in the development process.

Motivational Factors in the Timing Strategy

We asked each interviewee about the motivations behind the firm's timing decisions to ascertain why suppliers approach buying firms at one stage rather than another. Often citing specific innovations, interviewees identified a number of drivers for the decision to involve a buying firm at a particular stage (Table 2). Our findings suggest that suppliers are driven to involve buying firms during the front end or development stage because they need key input to continue developing the innovation. These needs include the identification and validation of market needs, access to buying firms' specifications or expertise, or a venue in which to test the innovation under real conditions.

Identification and validation of market needs. Market needs, which can shape the general direction of an innovation, are a primary reason suppliers push innovations at the front end. Current, detailed information on current and emerging market needs is critical to the success of an innovation. Suppliers' biggest mistake, according to our interviewees, is to equate buying firms' current needs with their future needs, resulting in products nobody wants. To this end, the two consultants recommended validating every new idea in the market, at best at the front end and at the development stage, at least. However, according to our C14 interviewee, most suppliers assume they already know the needs of their buying firms. This can be a critical mistake. As interviewee S8 points out, "The customer's needs are much more complex and multilayered than the supplier can observe." The interviewee from S10 said that his firm considers the identification and validation of market needs as the most important reason to involve customers at the front end of an innovation.

Access to specifications. Specifications are critical to supplier firms; they must have precise specifications to ensure that their products fit buying firms' product interfaces. Having access to these specifications at the development stage can help the innovating supplier avoid costly design changes and reworks. Specifications are clearly less necessary at the front end, when the supplier has only an idea. However, suppliers that don't involve customers during product development may face problems in incorporating their products into their customers' products due to a mismatch between product interfaces. Buyer firm interviewees confirmed lhe importance of designing in compatibility. The interviewee front B1 made a typical statement: "We can build very few components directly into our products." And the B5 interviewee confirmed that suppliers who don't access specifications early often have to modify their products to meet buyer needs: "Even if the supplier is approaching us with a completely developed product, we say, 'Hey, can you change this and that?' Then, he has to modify the product, or no deal with the supplier is made."

Access to expertise. By pushing an innovation early, suppliers can benefit from the buying firms' expertise, including their wider understanding of the overall system of which the supplier's product is a part. As our C14 interviewee pointed out, "Today, suppliers are usually component manufacturers. However, many of them do not have a deep understanding of the whole system." This is especially important for suppliers who lack knowledge of how their products interact with the final customer product. This system-level perspective can be helpful in both the front end and the development stage. Suppliers can also tap into buying firms' development capabilities to drive the innovation forward. Generally, supplier-firm interviewees found utilizing buying firms' expertise more important at the development stage, as system integration knowledge, for instance, is only useful after the supplier knows which system (or product) it is targeting.

Access to testing opportunities. The need for opportunities to test potential products is another main driver for suppliers' involvement of buying firms in product development. Testing can be very expensive, especially when testing under real-world conditions is required, for instance, in the manufacture of mining industry equipment (S10) or automotive components (S9). In these cases, buying firms can offer a testing environment that reflects real operational conditions. Some buying firms have recognized this need and engaged with suppliers to fill it. B7, for instance, regularly provides suppliers free access to its railway infrastructure for testing purposes, while other buyers, such as the customers of S12, bear at least 20 to 30 percent of testing costs.

Moderating Factors in the Timing Strategy

Besides the four motivational factors, we identified two moderating variables that affect the chance that a pushed innovation will succeed--the quality of the relationship with the buying firm and the buying firm's absorptive capacity. The importance of these two factors in collaborative R&D projects is widely recognized and well studied in the literature (see, for instance, West and Bogers 2014). Hence, it is not surprising that both factors also play an important role in supplier innovation push.

Relationship quality. We observed that the most important reason for hesitation to involve buying firms early in the product development process is the risk of losing intellectual property to the buying firm. To our surprise, all of the supplier firms in our study except SI3 reported either having experienced a loss of intellectual property to a collaborating buyer or having implemented strict processes to prevent such losses. As an interviewee from S9 told us, "Business is war." Many of the suppliers we interviewed try to safeguard intellectual property with formal contracts. However, it is difficult to set contract terms in early development stages because it is usually not clear what kind of intellectual property will be developed in the course of the project. Thus, contracts remain incomplete, which can have negative effects on collaboration outcomes (Zaremba, Bode, and Wagner 2017). The skepticism extends in both directions. Interviewees from buying firms told us that they are often skeptical of investing their firm's resources into an early-stage development project with suppliers. As B7 points out, buying firms fear not only a waste of resources but also inadvertently strengthening their competitors: "It's a problem of some of our divisions that they have co-developed innovations to a large extent. And in the end, the competition has been strengthened."

Supplier firms can address these challenges by choosing their partners carefully from firms with whom they have strong relationships. A common history increases trust on both sides of the equation. As interviewee S9 told us, "If you are well-known in the organization as a trustful supplier, doing good work and keeping your word, the customer is more open--especially, if the technology has a disruptive character." Buyer firm interviewees confirmed this assertion; as interviewee B6 stated, "Suppliers already need to have established business contacts within the company. If not, they often cannot push their innovations to us successfully. Without strong contacts, it's very difficult." A well-established relationship can also help buying firms assess whether the supplier has the capabilities needed to realize the innovation.

Buying firm's absorptive capacity. A buying firm's absorptive capacity determines whether the company is able to assess and recognize the value of external ideas and to utilize external inputs to generate higher outcomes (Cohen and Levinthal 1990). Wagner (2012) argues that absorptive capacity has a positive impact on collaborative product development projects, especially at the front end, because "the partner that receives the knowledge must be able to assimilate and apply that knowledge to its products during the NPD process" (Wagner 2012, p. 40). Buying firms that have a large absorptive capacity are adept at collaborating with suppliers; such companies are characterized by receptive structures that allow suppliers' innovations to reach decision makers and a corporate culture that is open to external ideas. According to interviewee B2, such cultures decrease internal barriers to information flow and increase transparency within the organization, enhancing the likelihood that the innovation proposal will find its way to the right person. Moreover, an open culture moderates the effect of the "not-invented-here syndrome" and decreases internal resentment against new ideas from outside (West and Bogers 2014).

Absorptive capacity is particularly important when pushing innovation at the front end because ideas are easy to reject, compared to finished projects. The buying firm's engineers need to be able to envision what applications the idea might enable or enhance. A prototype or finished product, which can be directly demonstrated, offers a much clearer argument for its value to particular applications. Hence, the importance of the buyer's absorptive capacity decreases with the maturity of the innovation. It does not, however, disappear--buying firms still must possess the intention and capabilities to absorb innovations form outside, even for innovations pushed at the commercialization stage.

Best Practices for Supplier-Push Innovation

The various motivational and moderating factors that influence supplier push decisions suggest three best practices to increase the chance that a push initiative will be successful:

* Avoid the purchasing department.

* Build personal networks within the buying firm.

* Work to raise the buying firm's commitment to the relationship and to the innovation.

These apply regardless of the development stage of the invention being pushed.

Avoid the Buying Firm's Purchasing Department

Although suppliers typically deal with purchasing departments for transactions with buying firms, our findings suggest that the buyer's purchasing department should be avoided when pushing innovation. Purchasing departments are typically not focused on innovation; rather, their success is usually measured in cost savings or in reductions in the supplier base. Consequently, if the only contact with the buying firm is through procurement, our interviewees told us, it often becomes difficult to push an innovation successfully. As the interviewee from C14 explains, "If procurement has it on its table, it's too late for the innovation." Buying firm interviewees affirmed this view; a purchasing manager from B5 told us, "I have no idea about the technology. The only thing I can do is to forward the proposal." Forwarding an innovation proposal through the purchasing department, whether it's an idea or a fully developed prototype, can result in delays, or worse--the proposal may never find its way to someone who can make a decision on it.

We suggest contacting the buyer's R&D department, which has the skills to evaluate the new technology, rather than purchasing. Some supplier firm interviewees in our study recommended identifying and contacting decision makers in R&D via social networks; they also mentioned special events, such as supplier or technology days, as a viable avenue to make contact with the buying firm's engineers. Most interviewees were referring to events held by buyer firms, but suppliers can also offer these events, as a way to make contact and build relationships. For example, Sil periodically invites current and potential customers to demonstrations of its most innovative products.

Finally, some companies with a strong orientation toward supplier innovation have established structures such as innovation hubs to improve the organization's accessibility for supplier innovations (Brachtendorf, Kurpjuweit, and Wagner 2017). These kinds of facilities typically allow suppliers to pitch their innovative products through a webbased interface. The product pitches are sent directly to the right engineer, who evaluates the technology and renders a decision, avoiding delays. The existence of such a structure is also a signal to the supplier that the buying firm is interested in external innovation and likely possesses both the required commitment and the needed absorptive capacity.

Build Personal Networks Within the Buying Firm's Organization

Personal ties with people inside the buying firm can provide several important advantages. First, personal networks can provide important information about a firm's pain points--the places where a supplier innovation can solve a problem or address a challenge for the buying firm. These are areas where companies are likely to be more receptive to external innovation. Second, personal ties within the buying firm can help the supplier identify and make contact with the right people to move a push innovation forward. Finally, product development collaborations require trust, and these kinds of trust relationships are built up through intensive personal contact. Personal relationships that bridge the two firms establish the trust a buying firm needs to consider such a collaboration.

Consequently, suppliers with strong personal networks within buying firms are more likely to share innovative ideas or products. Our interviewees indicated that a missing network is a considerable obstacle to supplier-driven innovation. As interviewee S9 told us, "If a network doesn't exist, then you have no chance at all ... you need to know who you can call." Moreover, interviewee SI3 insisted, "It's a key for our success that you know someone you can talk to, you have to know the customer's organization very well--that helps a lot. If you don't know someone, you have a big problem." This obstacle becomes even more problematic with potential partners who are large or complex.

These relationships can be developed intentionally through a number of mechanisms. For instance, some suppliers in our study reported inviting buying firm engineers to their R&D facilities to present ideas or prototypes and to participate in workshops on specific topics. We also observed that some suppliers offer customers very competitive prices to get their feet into the door and establish a relationship. In the long term, the supplier is more interested in building relationships and getting access to information about the buyer's decision-making processes and business needs than in selling specific products.

Raise the Commitment of the Buying Firm

The buying firm's motivation and commitment to the project is crucial for the ultimate success of an innovation push project. This primarily requires motivating individuals within the buying firm to act as champions for the external idea, to convince decision makers in the firm and push the innovation internally. As interviewee C14 said, "Everything is psychology. You have to identify the person within the buying firm who makes the idea his story or his next career step." Since many firms offer no incentives for employees to support external ideas, this kind of championing must be an act of commitment. As interviewee S 8 commented, "One soft factor which is crucial is enthusiasm. It is very important that topics and people fit together, and that people say that they want to do it. The buying firm really needs to have the eager desire to get the product. If not, they will give up as soon as the first problem comes up."

Another source of commitment within both firms is top management. Often, this too is a product of personal commitment, as supplier firm leaders contact the buying firm's top management directly. This level of contact could open doors for the supplier to present its innovation to engineers; it also can build commitment across the firm, as the buyer's top management can make clear the strategic importance of the project and its connection to the firm's goals.

At whatever level commitment is sought, supplier firm managers must take care not to raise false hopes by selling an innovation too enthusiastically. Overpromising can lead to disappointment, which could strain the relationship--creating greater barriers to later innovation push attempts. As interviewee S9 said, "In that case, you have a problem because you triggered cravings which you can't stop easily." The supplier must always communicate a realistic view of the development and keep the buying firm apprised of challenges.

A Model for Supplier Innovation Push

Our findings suggest a model for successful supplier innovation push, which can help suppliers make decisions about both timing and the right buyer-firm partner (Figure 2). The model illustrates the linkage between motivations and moderating factors in making timing decisions for push innovations. The presence of a particular motivational factor may drive the timing decision, as the supplier may require customer involvement in the product development process to proceed--for instance, market information may be needed to drive the decision to proceed with a project, and information about customer specifications may be needed to create an appropriate product design. If none of the motivational factors are present, the supplier may well choose to hold off sharing until commercialization, essentially forgoing collaboration.

Beyond timing, the supplier must also choose the right customer to collaborate in development and receive the innovation. The right customer is characterized by a large absorptive capacity and has a high-quality relationship with the supplier. These two moderating factors have their largest impact in the earlier stages of a project, but they are important even at commercialization.

Conclusion

Suppliers develop and push innovations proactively to generate future business and to access the innovation capabilities of buying firms. Pushing innovation helps to circumvent some of the drawbacks of innovation pull, such as exclusivity claims and increased dependency on specific customers. However, the timing and the choice of buyer to push to have a large impact on a pushed innovation's chances of success. While the wrong timing can slow the development process or leave the supplier without a market, the wrong customer can lead to a lost relationship, lost intellectual property, or failure in the market. This study seeks to ameliorate these risks by providing guidance on when and how suppliers should push an innovation to a buying firm.

Naturally, this study has some limitations. We did not interview buyer-supplier dyads and focused solely on firms in German-speaking countries. And the model we've developed might be too simplistic to fully represent the complexity of buyer-supplier relationships. Other influencing factors for supplier innovation push could be the expected innovation-pushing behavior of competitors, the use of brand names, or purchasing commitments. Future research could analyze whether our results hold up when there are more than two parties in the supply chain.

Nevertheless, these recommendations and best practices should enable suppliers to share their innovations with buying firms more successfully.

Stefan Kurpjuweit is a research associate and PhD candidate in the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). His research interests relate to supplier innovation, entrepreneurial suppliers, procurement's role in innovation projects, and the impact of innovative technologies on supply chains. In his dissertation project, he explores how established buying firms can select, integrate, and leverage new ventures as their suppliers. He holds a Master's in industrial engineering and management from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and spent an academic year at the University of Barcelona. skurpjuweit@ethz.ch

Dagmar Reinerth is a research associate and PhD candidate in the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). Her research interests relate to supply chain sustainability, supply chain risks, and supply chain innovation. In her dissertation project, she works toward an efficient assessment of supply chain sustainability risks. She holds a Master's in industrial engineering and management from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and spent an exchange semester at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia and at the Linkoping University in Sweden. dreinerth@ethz.ch

Stephan M. Wagner holds the Kuhne Foundation-sponsored Chair of Logistics Management and is Director of the Executive MBA in Supply Chain Management at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. His research interests lie in the areas of supply chain management, purchasing and supply management, logistics, and transportation management, with a particular emphasis on strategy, networks, relationships, behavioral issues, risk, innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. He is an active researcher who has published 10 books and more than 100 professional and academic articles. He holds a PhD from the University of St. Gallen. stwagner<@ethz.ch

DOI: 10.1080/08956308.2018.1399025

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Caption: FIGURE 1. Timing preferences for innovation push

Caption: FIGURE 2. Supplier innovation push model
TABLE 1. The study sample

Firm Employees         Country     Industry

Buyer Firms

B1 >100,000            Germany     Automotive, Industrial Goods
B2 10,000-30,000       Austria     Fashion Accessories
B3 >100,000            Germany     Healthcare, Electronics, Energy
B4 >100,000          Switzerland   Medical Products, Electronics
B5 30,000-100,000      Germany     Automotive
B6 10,000-30,000     Switzerland   Logistics and Transportation
B7 >100,000            Germany     Logistics and Transportation

Supplier Firms

S8 30,000-100,000      Germany     Automotive
S9 10,000-30,000       Germany     Automotive
S10 10,000-30,000      Germany     Filter Technology
S11 10,000-30,000      Germany     Industrial Goods
S12 >100,000           Germany     Automotive
S13 1,000-5,000      Switzerland   Industrial Goods

Consulting Firms

C14 N/A                Germany     Consulting
C15 N/A                Germany     Consulting

Firm Employees       Interviewees                         Interviews

Buyer Firms

B1 >100,000          Purchasing Managers                      2
B2 10,000-30,000     Director Innovation Networks             1
B3 >100,000          Purchasing Manager                       1
B4 >100,000          Purchasing Manager                       1
B5 30,000-100,000    Purchasing Manager                       1
B6 10,000-30,000     Purchasing Manager                       1
B7 >100,000          Director of Technology;                  2
                     Innovation Manager

Supplier Firms

S8 30,000-100,000    Head of Mechatronics                     1
S9 10,000-30,000     Director of Advanced Engineering         1
S10 10,000-30,000    CTO; Process Manager                     2
S11 10,000-30,000    Head of Sales; Technology Manager        2
S12 >100,000         Technology Development                   1
S13 1,000-5,000      Head of Product Development              1

Consulting Firms

C14 N/A              Consultant                               1
C15 N/A              Consultant                               1

TABLE 2. Motivational factors in the timing of innovation push

Firm    Timing of    Identification/     Access to      Access to
           Push       Validation of    Specifications   Expertise
                      Market Needs

S8      NPD                 +                +              +
S9      NPD                 +
S10     FFE, NPD            +                +              +
S11     NPD                 +                               +
S12     NPD                 +                +
S13     No supplier innovation push
C14     FFE, NPD            +                +              +
C15     FFE, NPD            +                +              +

Firm       Testing
        Opportunities   Other Factors

S8            +         Increased acceptance at buying firm
S9
S10           +         Increased customer loyalty
S11           +
S12           +         Financial support
S13
C14           +
C15           +

Note: + indicates a factor was mentioned by interviewees.
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Title Annotation:FEATURE ARTICLE
Comment:Supplier Innovation Push: Timing Strategies and Best Practices: A number of motivating and moderating factors influence suppliers' decisions to involve customers in the innovation process.(FEATURE ARTICLE)
Author:Kurpjuweit, Stefan; Reinerth, Dagmar; Wagner, Stephan M.
Publication:Research-Technology Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2018
Words:6130
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