Innovations have become a key factor for securing the long-term success of an enterprise. Thus, innovation management is of concern not only for managers and researchers in economics and the social sciences but also plays a significant role in many political and sociological discussions. From a scientific point of view, diffusion research is of particular interest for two reasons: it not only is of high practical relevance, but also is positioned at the thrilling interface between innovation management, marketing, sociology and operations research.
While several papers have investigated the effects of isolated factors influencing the diffusion of innovations (e.g., mass communication, consumer heterogeneity, network structures), only few studies have attempted to analyze effects of combinations of these factors. This is what the re-search project at hand is striving for. A major outcome will be a forecasting tool that – being backed up by computational capacities that are available nowadays – is able to simulate the impact of clearly defined marketing measures (e.g., targeted at a geographical region or members of a specific market segment) on the diffusion process of an innovation and, thus, can be used to verify findings from the past and/or to gain new insights. By applying an agent-based simulation approach (which currently is the most advanced simulation technique for this type of research) customer preferences, social interactions as well as the transfer of word-of-mouth in an underlying social network can be taken into account. Furthermore, this approach allows the modeling of different types of customers (e.g., opinion leaders) in the diffusion process as well as the explicit con-sideration of spatial effects in investigating geographically targeted marketing measures. The inte-gration of both product (e.g., product quality, price) and consumer related characteristics (i.e., pre-ferences) represents another innovative aspect of the research project, meeting the demand for a strengthening of supply-sided factors in the analysis.
In order to realistically represent customer preferences and the social network, an empirical study on BioFiT (which is a synthetic fuel from biomass with high economical, ecological and political relevance) has been performed. Last, but not least, a particular strength of the proposed project lies in its project team that compromises renowned scientists from the University of Vienna, the Vienna University of Technology and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt who are experts in fields such as innovation management, marketing, operations research, and sociology.
01.2008 - 06.2011