Leveraging social media in new product development: organisational learning processes, mechanisms and evidence from China

Yuanzhu Zhan*, Kim Hua Tan, Leanne Chung, Lujie Chen, Xinjie Xing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The main purpose of this paper is to investigate how social media can provide important platforms to facilitate organisational learning and innovation in new product development (NPD) process. Design/methodology/approach: Using a multiple case-study approach, this study assesses qualitative data collected via 56 interviews from 13 world-leading Chinese companies in the high-technology industry. Findings: The study identified three distinct types of organisational learning mechanisms for firms to extract potential innovation inherent in social media. It further determined various organisational enablers that facilitate the connections between these mechanisms and NPD performance. Research limitations/implications: This research contributes to the emerging literature on digital product development and organisational learning. The cases were conducted in the Chinese context, hence, the results may not be fully generalisable to other organisations, industries and countries without appropriate re-contextualisation. Practical implications: The empirical evidence showcases the various mechanisms adopted by managers in different NPD phases. It identifies several technological and organisational adaptations that managers can apply to smartly scale their social presence and facilitate NPD. Originality/value: Despite the exponential growth of social media use in identifying and interacting with external stakeholders, managerial practice and academic research have paid little attention to how social media can be leveraged for NPD. The value of this research comes from applying a qualitative method to gain in-depth insights into the mechanisms for leveraging social media to facilitate innovation in NPD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-695
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2020


  • Case study
  • China
  • New product development
  • Organisational learning
  • Social media

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