Research shows that effective marketing and R&D interface is pivotal in a company's new product development performance and future competitiveness. The increased popularity of social media promised to enhance interaction, collaboration, and networking between the two functions. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the key activities, infrastructure requirements, and potential benefits of social media in the marketing and R&D interface. This study aims to advance the current understanding of social media engagement strategies, which facilitates improved marketing and R&D interfaces and ultimately NPD performance for manufacturing companies. Based on a multiple-case study in two manufacturing companies, this study first presents the role of social media in facilitating improved marketing and R&D interface within a B2B context. Second, it presents the adoption process of the social media engagement strategy for an evolving marketing and R&D interface. The adoption process is divided into three phases, namely coordination, cooperation, and coproduction, to provide detailed insights regarding full-scale social media engagement. Taken together, the study provides novel insights into industrial marketing management literature by exemplifying the role of social media and proposing a systematic social engagement strategy for improved marketing and R&D interface in the manufacturing industry.
New product development (NPD) is pivotal to companies' longterm survival and growth (Ahmad, Mallick, & Schroeder, 2013; Geroski & Machin, 1992). A prominent key success factor for NPD is the ability to closely integrate and build upon competences from many internal functional departments, such as sales, marketing, research and development (R & D), engineering, finance, production, and aftermarket (Gomes, de Weerd-Nederhof, Pearson, & Cunha, 2003). Specifically, there is a wide consensus that enhanced marketing and R & D interface are vital to NPD success (Griffin & Hauser, 1996; Gupta, Raj, & Wilemon, 1985; Lam & Chin, 2005; Li & Chen, 2016; Song & Song, 2010; Xie, Song, & Stringfellow, 2003). This is because the marketing function possesses deeper insights into the customer and the market, and R & D function represents the knowledge, skills, and capabilities to develop innovative product and service offers. Through improved interface between marketing and R & D, technical and market expertise are effectively combined to achieve the common business goals such as develop novel product design with higher marketability (Fain, Kline, & Duhovnik, 2011). A harmonious marketing and R & D interface helps companies to integrate resources, mitigate innovation risks, access new technologies, enter new markets, improve product quality, and reduce uncertainties (Hempelmann & Engelen, 2015; Yao, Xu, Song, Jiang, & Zhang, 2014). Although positive benefits from interface integration between marketing and R & D towards innovativeness have been widely recognized (Fain et al., 2011; Olson, Walker, Ruekert, & Bonner, 2001), studies also acknowledge the higher likelihood of conflicts and challenges arising between marketing and R & D interface (Hernandez & Lee, 2007) due to the differences in their personality, backgrounds, language, responsibilities, perspectives, and interests (Griffin & Hauser, 1996; Wang, 1996).