UPI and MTO companies
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User producer interaction (UPI) is generally recognized as a valuable source of innovation. Different types of UPI are needed for different circumstances and sectors. The Dutch steel processing industry consists of many Make-to-order companies (MTOs). A great part of these companies only produce components instead of artefacts and are more involved in process innovation than in product innovation. This peculiar setting is not addressed in the scientific literature about UPI. In order to create a better understanding of this specific combination of MTO and UPI, the following research question is posed: “Which varieties of UPI exist among MTO component producers and what explains these differences?” This will lead to a set of hypothesis that can be tested among a larger group in further research. These hypotheses are built from concepts that are grounded in the data. This research has a qualitative explorative research design in the tradition of grounded theory. Data is collected by means of multiple rounds of in-depth interviews which are subject to constant comparison. Data analysis revealed four levels of UPI which are distinguished by the concept of initiative. In level three and four the initiative shifts from users to producers. A second model explains the underlying incentives of producers to anticipate on these levels of interaction and shows how these incentives are imbedded in the strategy of companies.