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Research about users as a source of innovation has been largely restricted to case studies exploring specific innovation projects at the firm level. This paper assesses empirically the relationship between external end users' knowledge as an input factor to innovation and firms' innovation success. The results strongly support the hypotheses: those external end users have the potential to essentially improve the innovative performance of firms; that the technique of interaction during the innovation process and the characteristics of involved external users matter as well. The more firms make use of emphatic design and select specific users to acquire hard-to-articulate customer needs, the stronger is the relationship between access to external end users' knowledge and firm innovation success measured in sales of innovative products.
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