A framework for evaluating business lead users' virtual reality innovations in second life
This paper extends von Hippel’s (Manag. Sci. 32(7):791–805, 1986) concept of lead users to a virtual reality environment. Three lead user groups, site developers, business firms and avatars, have a synergistic role to play in extending virtual reality from a social networking platform to a commercial one. The paper proposes a framework for assessing the extent to which innovative practices have been demonstrated by lead user business firms in a virtual setting. It applies the framework to twenty pioneering firms that operated within Second Life in 2007, from an avatar’s perspective. The study’s findings indicate that business firms made little use of digital agents, and provided few examples of bricolage. However, they exhibited higher levels of innovation in their use of telepresence and interactivity, which contributed to the achievement of flow. As a single-avatar study, the paper has limited generalizability, however studies with a wider scope will enable further development of this framework.