Technologically Reflective Individuals as Enablers of Social Innovation

Fiona Schweitzer, Christiane Rau, Oliver Gassmann, Ellis van den Hende

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


This paper identifies technologically reflective individuals and demonstrates their ability to develop innovations that benefit society. Technological reflectiveness (TR) is the tendency to think about the societal impact of an innovation, and those who display this capability in public are individuals who participate in online idea competitions focused on technical solutions for social problems (such as General Electric's eco-challenge, the James Dyson Award, and the BOSCH Technology Horizon Award). However, technologically reflective individuals also reflect in private settings (e.g., when reading news updates), thus requiring a scale to identify them. This paper describes the systematic development of an easy-to-administer multi-item scale to measure an individual's level of TR. Applying the TR scale in an empirical study on a health monitoring system confirmed that individuals' degree of TR relates positively to their ability to generate (1) more new product features and uses, (2) features with higher levels of societal impact, and (3) features that are more elaborated. This scale allows firms seeking to implement co-creation in their new product development (NPD) process and sustainable solutions to identify such individuals. Thus, this paper indicates that companies wishing to introduce new technological products with a positive societal impact may profit from involving technologically reflective individuals in the NPD process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-860
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


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