Research Focus

The department is dedicated to research within the conceptual triangle of innovation, strategy, and branding practices.


 The Innovation Perspective

Our research on innovation capability deals with product, process, market and resource innovation in businesses and public institutions. We examine how the knowledge and skills required for innovation can be attained, distributed and applied within and beyond the organization. One central issue thereby is which basic conditions are especially conducive to maximizing innovation capability. We investigate how innovations can originate from knowledge, skills and resources available within the organization itself or from customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.


  The Branding Perspective

This field of research deals with brand development processes and how they can be influenced. We examine how brand meanings develop within social interactions, how they become subject to experience through brand manifestations (the organization, its products and services, as well as people, symbols and activities), and finally how people interested in a brand participate in brand related interactions. In particular, we focus on the question of how lasting emotional relationships between organizations and important stockholders develop and how these relationships may strengthen or weaken the brand position. From this, implications for branding actions should emerge.


 The Strategic Management Perspective

The increasing dynamics of markets linked with changes more difficult to foresee require new procedures and ways of thinking from people working in business organizations as well as public institutions. Innovative entrepreneurship as well the development of a unique system of emotional relations with the most important stakeholders can become a major base for competitive advantages. Strategic leadership refers to the creation and maintenance of social, economic and technical conditions within an organization. Within this field of research we examine the influence of strategic leadership on the innovation capability of organizations and on their capability of building lasting emotional relationships with and among stakeholders.



 Top Publications

Below you find a list of our most recent high profile publications.
You can also find a list of our entire publication activities.


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Schroll, Roland, Benedikt Schnurr, and Dhruv Grewal (2018) "Humanizing Products with Handwritten Typefaces," Journal of Consumer Research


The loss of a sense of humanness that stems from increasing mechanization, automation, and digitization gives firms an impetus to develop effective ways to humanize products. On the basis of knowledge activation theory, this article systematically investigates a novel humanization approach: the use of typefaces that appear to be handwritten. Across several laboratory and field studies, the authors provide evidence of the positive effect of handwritten typefaces, reveal the mechanisms that lead to these outcomes, and outline some boundary conditions. Specifically, the results show that handwritten typefaces create perceptions of human presence, which lead to more favorable product evaluations (and behavior) by enhancing the emotional attachment between the consumer and the product. However, these effects are mitigated for brands to which consumers already feel a sense of attachment. Finally, the effects reverse when the products are functionally positioned or functional in nature. The present article thus extends understanding of humanization processes and provides guidelines for how and when brands should use handwritten typefaces.


Koschate-Fischer, Nicole, Wayne D. Hoyer, Nicola E. Stokburger-Sauer, and Jan Engling (2017) "Do Life Events Always Lead to Change in Purchase? The Mediating Role of Change in Consumer Innovativeness, the Variety Seeking Tendency, and Price COnsciousness," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science


Consumers can experience major life events (e.g., the birth of a child or retirement) that have key strategic managerial implications for firms in terms of creating new market segments as well as preventing defection from existing brands. Therefore, in the context of a consumer-based strategy, this study investigates whether life events change actual purchase behavior as well as how three important and managerially actionable consumer difference variables (consumer innovativeness, the variety seeking tendency, and price consciousness) mediate this link. Purchase records of an individual-level consumer panel, combined with demographic and survey data over a three-year period, indicate that there is a direct link between life events and changes in share of wallet (SOW) and share of units (SOU) for the preferred brand in a product category. Further, experiencing a life event leads to an increase in consumer innovativeness that, in turn, decreases SOW/SOU for the preferred brand for some purchases, while at the same time leading to a decrease in consumers’ variety seeking tendency and price consciousness for others that, in turn, lead to an increase in SOW/SOU. These findings suggest a paradox of change that can both enhance and inhibit purchasing new brands. Finally, the effects of first-time life events (i.e., significant markers in the course of life that occur for the first time) are stronger than the effects of repeated life events, and life events with a positive economic impact have a strong negative effect on change in price consciousness.


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Schnurr, Benedikt,  Brunner-Sperdin, Alexandra and Nicola E. Stokburger-Sauer (2017) "The Effect of Context Attractiveness on Product Attractiveness and Product Quality: The Moderating Role of Product Familiarity," Marketing Letters


Prior research has investigated a number of drivers of consumers' perceived product attractiveness, such as a product's shape and color. The context, in which a product is presented, has so far been largely neglected in examining consumers' aesthetic appraisal of products. Drawing on social cognition theory, this research investigates how the attractiveness of the visual context (e.g., websites, advertisements) influences consumers' perceptions of product attractiveness and product quality for familiar versus unfamiliar products. Results of two experimental studies show that consumers perceive unfamiliar products as more attractive and, consequently, of higher quality when products are placed in an attractive context than when they are placed in an unattractive context. No differences in consumers' perceived product attractiveness and perceived product quality exist for familiar products. The findings extend our theoretical knowledge of product aesthetics and provide managers with insights into the effective communication of their offerings' attractiveness. 


katja_hutterkurt_matzlerBauer, Florian, Strobl, Andreas, Dao, Mai Anh, Matzler, Kurt and Nicole Rudolf (2016), “Examining links between pre and post M&A value creation mechanisms - exploitation, exploration and ambidexterity in Central European SMEs,” Long Range Planning


Value creation in acquisitions is a complex topic with divergent theoretical roots and mixed empirical evidence. In empirical research, the study of strategic fit between an acquirer and target as an important indicator of synergy often yields ambiguous findings, for two major reasons: the conceptualization of the fit construct and that construct's missing link with issues of post-merger integration. In this paper, we apply exploration and exploitation as different concepts of learning to conceptualize the strategic fit among organizations involved. We do not draw a direct relationship regarding M&A performance, but instead treat the success of post-acquisition exploration and exploitation as a mediator in the fit-performance relationship. With a sample of 101 acquisitions of small and medium-sized firms from the German-speaking part of Europe, we find evidence for our proposed hypotheses. First, fit regarding these two learning modes improves performance; second, a synergistic effect exists between exploration and exploitation; third, ambidextrous post-merger development in exploration and exploitation negatively affects M&A performance; and fourth, acquisition experience benefits the transfer of pre-merger strategic fit to the success of post-merger activity. Based on those findings, we derive implications for theory and practice.


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Teichmann, KarinScholl-Grissemann, Ursula and Nicola E. Stokburger-Sauer (2016) "The Power of Codesign to Bond Customers to Products and Companies: The Role of Toolkit Support and Creativity," Journal of Interactive Marketing


Configuration tools allow customers to codesign their products in the most extraordinary fashion to illustrate their unique identity. While research widely acknowledges the functional benefits of codesigned products, far less is known about the emotional benefits of codesign activities for the customer and the company. This research highlights the effect of codesign activities on the emotional bond between the customer and the product (i.e., customer–product attachment) as well as the customer and the company (i.e., customer–company identification). Data from an experimental study and a survey study with customers of a bicycle manufacturer show that codesign drives customer–product attachment and customer–company identification. Importantly, the studies show that the emotional bond with the company rather than that with the product boosts codesign expenditures. Investing in codesign toolkits thus pays off for companies because they drive customer–company identification and, consequently, codesign expenditures.


Blohm, Ivo,  Riedl, Christoph, Füller, Johann and Jan Marco Leimeister (2016), “Rate or Trade? Identifying Winning Ideas in Open Idea Sourcing,” Information Systems Research


Information technology (IT) has created new patterns of digitally-mediated collaboration that allow open sourcing of ideas for new products and services. These novel sociotechnical arrangements afford finely-grained manipulation of how tasks can be represented and have changed the way organizations ideate. In this paper, we investigate differences in behavioral decision-making resulting from IT-based support of open idea evaluation. We report results from a randomized experiment of 120 participants comparing IT-based decision-making support using a rating scale (representing a judgment task) and a preference market (representing a choice task). We find that the rating scale-based task invokes significantly higher perceived ease of use than the preference market-based task and that perceived ease of use mediates the effect of the task representation treatment on the users’ decision quality. Furthermore, we find that the understandability of ideas being evaluated, which we assess through the ideas’ readability, and the perception of the task’s variability moderate the strength of this mediation effect, which becomes stronger with increasing perceived task variability and decreasing understandability of the ideas. We contribute to the literature by explaining how perceptual differences of task representations for open idea evaluation affect the decision quality of users and translate into differences in mechanism accuracy. These results enhance our understanding of how crowdsourcing as a novel mode of value creation may effectively complement traditional work structures.

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