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Boundary spanning has been extensively researched in organization studies and in marketing. While organizational literature has examined it from information acquisition-processing and representing the organization to external stakeholders; and learning, innovation and product/service development perspectives; marketing literature has focused mainly on aspects such as bringing in useful knowledge about consumer requirements and delivering quality services to them, usually as an act involving unidirectional efforts by organizations. In this chapter we focus on harnessing useful knowledge from consumers and utilizing it in product and service development and delivery. We utilize organizational literature to portray this as a bidirectional interaction between boundary spanners and consumers leading to co-creation of certain aspects of products and services. Specifically, we explore the role of boundary objects in effecting this co-creation. Boundary objects become a vital interface between organizations and consumers, enabling development of a shared understanding among groups with different motivations and mental models, and facilitating interactions and mutual engagement. With examples from the Social Enterprise domain, we illustrate how boundary objects become critical in involving end users or consumers in service development and delivery, and how the use of such objects can enable organizations to stay close to their clients, learn from them and innovate.
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- Boundary Objects and End User Engagement: Illustrations from the Social Enterprise Domain
Unnikrishnan K. Nair