Relying on insights from resource dependence and information processing theory, this study analyzes the extent to which an importer's involvement influences product innovation at the industrial exporter firm. We consider two modes of involvement, collecting importer's feedback and importer integration in the product development effort. We propose that the relationship between importer involvement and product innovation is contingent upon the level of inter-functional coordination within the development firm, and contextual factors related to the export market. Data were collected from export companies participating in different international business-to-business markets. Results show that firms with high inter-functional coordination achieved higher leverage from importer feedback, but obtain no impact from importer integration in product development (PD). Contextual factors affect the relationship between importer involvement and product innovation: importer feedback affects product innovation in environments with intense competition and low technological turbulence. Importer integration in PD has a significant effect on product innovation in environments with low competitive intensity and high technological turbulence. This study contributes to a better understanding of the conditions that allow an exporter firm to create value through external relationships. Theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are discussed.
- product innovation
- importer involvement
- resource dependence theory
- external environment
- inter-functional coordination
- information processing theory