Customers as Experts: Be Strategic About Your Customers Because They Know More than You and are Willing to Share
1Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Österreich; 2Universität Liechtenstein
Customers have long been seen as pure passive consumers of goods and services. Management approaches like total quality management, open innovation, open strategy and co-value creation have changed that picture during the past decades. The customer today is no longer just a passive need-seeker, but gets more and more activated and involved into value creation and knowledge exchange processes of companies. Companies use customers as experts, but less attention is drawn on the motivational foundation of them in contributing to knowledge exchange and value creation processes. Especially SMEs rely on customers as experts as their resources are scarce. We shed light on the different motivational foundation of various customer as experts-types. Our case study-based research shows that personal reputation, access to information, impact on product configuration or joint strategy development are main reasons for them in engaging in knowledge exchange and value creation processes. We contribute to existing literature by explaining the motivational foundation of different customer types, interaction forms, partner selection and provided knowledge.
UNDER PRESSURE: IN THE MIDDLE OF CHANGE TOWARDS MORE FLEXIBILITY
1Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Austria; 2Fachhochschule Wien, Austria
Middle managers being at a central position ‘in the middle’ of the organization are constantly confronted with the need of performing multiple, diverse, even contradicting tasks. Such an acting in multiple roles influences their identity work and confronts them with tensions that become even more salient in organizations that are in a transition phase of implementing more flexible and adaptive structures and more decentralized decision-making (Balogun & Johnson, 2004; Lee & Edmondson, 2017) in order to meet the challenges of digital transformation.
We aim at explaining how and why middle managers experience tensions that emerge from introducing more flexible structures and decentralized decision-making. Our results show that with more flexibility and decentralization of decisions middle managers are put under pressure by having to collaborate with other middle managers, who are at the same time competitors. Not having these roles enacted in their managerial identity causes tension; this lack of identification leads to feeling powerless and consequently to no real actions and latent conflict. We contribute to research of middle managers’ identity by claiming that, especially if considering flexible and empowering organizational structures, middle managers have to broaden their meaning of leadership, not only within the known coordination mechanisms of the managerial hierarchy.
Digitalization is more than the sum of its parts: A holistic assessment of the influences on employees
1ESB Business School, Hochschule Reutlingen, Deutschland; 2Universität der Bundeswehr München
When organizations change their business strategies in the digital age and intend to implement digital strategies (like focusing on industry 4.0 technologies), they need to adapt their work designs in order to align strategy and work. However, there is a lack of studies that examine the effects of digital strategies from the perspective of employees. This paper empirically examines how the implementation of digital strategy in organizations affects employees and their working environment. We conducted a qualitative case study in a healthcare insurance company that digitalizes its paper-based business processes as part of implementing their digital strategy. Rather than focusing on a single aspect within the organization like most prior studies, we took into account the complex interdependencies of organizational life within a configurational perspective in our analysis. We found that the working environment of employees is affected by the digitalization of business processes on three different levels: the organizational level (e.g., provided technology), the interactional level (e.g., leadership), and the individual level (e.g., learning and adaption). We discuss how a configurational model can contribute to a better understanding of how the implementation of digital strategies concretely affects employees on different levels within an organization and contribute a holistic perspective on the phenomenon.