The Meaning of Lead Users Within the Context of Online Platforms in the Creative Industry

Nacheva, Elitsa (2013) The Meaning of Lead Users Within the Context of Online Platforms in the Creative Industry. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)] (Unpublished)

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In today’s dynamic and rapidly evolving technologically advanced world, user innovation and open source sharing are becoming powerful phenomena, which can potentially change existing business models. In this paper we integrate multi-method research, focusing on a particular segment of innovating users defined as “lead users” by von Hippel (1986) to explore their meaning within the context of the previously non-researched creative industry, represented by 3D printing and design in one particular research setting. “Lead Users” are defined by academic research as having high incentives to innovate and being at the leading edge of an important market trend. Therefore, by distinguishing between different categories of lead users in the context of our chosen research setting, we aim to define their meaning in relation to the creative industry.


The study selected a particular research setting in order to obtain primary and secondary data. Primary data in the form of ten semi-structured qualitative interviews, based on a case study approach, was used to develop and further our knowledge on the meaning of lead users within the online creative community of Thingiverse; primary data was further obtained via quantitative techniques. Secondary data was obtained through observations from blogs, online documents, and articles from independent resources.


We find that they contribute to it by determining a unique model of innovation driven by intrinsic, extrinsic and mixed incentives, which, in turn, contribute to the types of resources the lead users add to the research setting. Analyzing evidence from our research findings, we gain insights, which we believe contribute to and enrich the existing academic literature, specifically

in relation to user entrepreneurship and sources of innovation, as well as evidence for the successful coexistence of mixed resources and mixed incentives. We find that the latter is enabled by a certain group of lead users, which have managed to successfully bridge the two polar worlds.

Value and Originality

To the knowledge of the author existing academic research has not explored the creative industry and its lead users so far, therefore, this paper will add novice aspects through its findings.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 16:19
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2017 13:35

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