User innovativeness in living laboratories: everyday user improvisations with ICTs as a source of innovation

Sabrina Sauer

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

683 Downloads (Pure)


What role can the ideas and practices of ordinary people play during the design and development of new ICTs? This PhD thesis aims to answer this question by investigating user innovativeness in Living Laboratory practices. The guiding principle of Living Laboratories is that user-centered design situated in a daily life context instigates unexpected new ideas and uses of technologies, culminating in the development of more successful ICTs. Furthermore, end users of technologies are positioned as partners in public-private-civic partnerships that Living Labs aim to facilitate. Working from a Science and Technology Studies-perspective, this thesis focuses on the dynamic relationship between user, context and technology to articulate how “user innovativeness” takes shape and is translated into new ICTs in Living Laboratories. The concepts of improvisation and situated expertise are used to guide the analysis of user innovativeness in three cases studies. These case studies focus on the role of users in development practices of (1) pollution measuring smart sensor prototypes in a public park in Amsterdam, (2) a sustainable shopping street in Amsterdam and (3) a smart community game in two neighbourhoods in Ghent. Based on the analyses, the following conclusions are drawn; (1) innovation practices in Living Laboratories focus on realizing both social and technological innovations; (2) users are often enrolled in user-centered methodologies in Living Lab-projects as users, not as partners. Users are recognized as experts of the daily life setting, but their insights are configured in such a way, that unforeseen ideas and practices are not always acknowledged. (3) By attempting to steer and govern “bottom-up” innovation from a “top down” perspective, unforeseen, improvised and perhaps innovative insights are not granted agency in these practices. The situated expertise of users is recognized, but is not always realized in new ICTs. In the final chapter, 6 suggestions for Living Lab-practitioners are presented.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Oudshoorn, N.E.J., Supervisor
  • van Oost, El.C.J., Co-Supervisor
Award date18 Sept 2013
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-0012-8
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'User innovativeness in living laboratories: everyday user improvisations with ICTs as a source of innovation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this