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Lead User Analyses for the Development of New Industrial Products


  • Glen L. Urban

    (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139)

  • Eric von Hippel

    (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139)


Recently, a "lead user" concept has been proposed for new product development in fields subject to rapid change (von Hippel [von Hippel, E. 1986. Lead users: A source of novel product concepts. Management Sci. 32 791--805.]). In this paper we integrate market research within this lead user methodology and report a test of it in the rapidly evolving field of computer-aided systems for the design of printed circuit boards (PC-CAD). In the test, lead users were successfully identified and proved to have unique and useful data regarding both new product needs and solutions responsive to those needs. New product concepts generated on the basis of lead user data were found to be strongly preferred by a representative sample of PC-CAD users. We discuss strengths and weaknesses of this first empirical test of the lead user methodology, and suggest directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Glen L. Urban & Eric von Hippel, 1988. "Lead User Analyses for the Development of New Industrial Products," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(5), pages 569-582, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:34:y:1988:i:5:p:569-582

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Leech, Dennis, 1985. "Ownership Concentration and the Theory of the Firm : A Simple-Game-Theoretic Approach to Applied US Corporations in the 1930's," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 262, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    2. Guillermo Owen, 1972. "Multilinear Extensions of Games," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(5-Part-2), pages 64-79, January.
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