Università della Svizzera italiana Faculty of Communication Sciences ./index.htm

Strategic Marketing & Innovation

The research area of strategic marketing and innovation is currently divided into three fields:

Consumer Psychology

What do Intel and McAfee have in common? Ebay and Skype? Voice recognition and GPS? Louis Vuitton and Al Gore’s Climate Project? Or, more generally, when are two things (such as firms, products, resources) similar, and how does it matter? Marketing Executives must thoroughly understand this question, or risk overlooking vast opportunities and grave threats. This research area works at the interface of cognitive psychology and consumer behavior. Specifically, we start from the assumption that similarity is not just a matter of degree (how similar are two things), but also of kind (how are two things similar). Building on cognitive theories of categorization, similarity, conceptual combination and visual/spatial attention, we offer new conceptual tools and practical applications.

Representative publications:

Gibbert, M., Hampton, J., Estes, Z., & Mazursky, D. (forthcoming). The curious case of the Fridge-TV: Dissimilarity and Hybridization. Conditional accept at Cognitive Science.

Gibbert, M. & Mazursky, D. (2009). How successful would a phone-pillow be? Using dual process theory to predict the success of hybrids involving two dissimilar products. Journal of Consumer Psychology

Gibbert, M. & Mazursky, D. (2007) Crossbreeding as an alternative brand extension strategy. Wall Street Journal Oct. 27 (cover story of ‘Business Insight’ report)


Product Innovation Management

“You get what you pay for” probably best summarizes the traditional management orthodoxy that team performance is strongly linked to material resources. After all, it makes intuitive sense that a team’s access to money and equipment is a key determinant of good results. So when a project is lagging behind, a commonly observed reaction among managers is to drive it along by making more (rather than fewer) resources available. Actually, we believe that resource-driven thinking has so dominated the research agenda that it has clouded our consideration of many situations in which scarce resources (precisely because they are scarce) are desirable, potentially leading to breakthrough performance. In the spirit of the proverbial “necessity is the mother of invention,” teams may produce better results because of the resource constraints. The reason seems to be that the human mind is most productive when restricted. Limited — or better focused — by specific rules and constraints, we are more likely to recognize an unexpected idea.

Representative publications:

Gibbert, M., Hoegl, M., & Valikangas, L. (forthcoming). Financial constraints and innovation. Journal of Product Innovation Management (Guest editors’ introduction to the special issue)

Weiss, M., Hoegl, M., & Gibbert M. (forthcoming). Making virtue of necessity: The role of team climate for innovation in resource-constrained innovation projects. Forthcoming Journal of Product Innovation Management.

Hoegl, M., Gibbert, M., & Mazursky, D. (2008). Financial constraints in innovation projects: When is less more? Research Policy 37(8), 1382-1391.

Gibbert, M., Hoegl., M., & Valikangas, L. (2007). In praise of resource constraints. MIT Sloan Management Review 48(3), 15-17.

Valikangas, L., & Gibbert, M. (2005). Boundary-setting strategies for escaping innovation traps. MIT Sloan Management Review 48(3), 58-65.

Gibbert, M. & Valikangas, L.(2004). Boundaries and Innovation: Introduction to the special issue. Long Range Planning, 37, 495-504.


Ensuring Validity in Case Study Research

Several authors suggested that methodological rigor in terms of validity and reliability matters since articles having higher levels of methodological rigor receive more citation counts, i.e. more recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Research has shown that papers building theory from cases are not only among the “most interesting” papers, but are also among the most highly-cited papers, having provided the strategic management field with ground-breaking insights. Despite this, the case study method has been prone to concerns regarding methodological rigor in terms of validity and reliability. The objective of this research area is to (a) establish if there have been any systematic tendencies in case study research published in leading management journals that may negatively affect case study rigor, and (b) to propose research strategies to enhance rigor.

Representative publications:

Gibbert, M. & Ruigrok, W. (2010). The What and How of case study rigor: Three strategies based on published work. Organizational Research Methods.

Gibbert, M., & Dubois, A. (2009). The case study in industrial marketing management (Guest editors’ introduction to the special issue). Industrial Marketing Management.

Gibbert, M., Wicki, B., & Ruigrok, W. (2008). What passes as a rigorous case study? Strategic Management Journal, 29, 1465-1474.



Current research projects:
The research activity in this area is articulated in two on-going research projects.

Externally funded:


Head of research area
Michael Gibbert
Professor of Marketing
Email: michael.gibbert@usi.ch
Phone: +41 58 666 4727