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Innovation and design processes in small established companies
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.).
2009 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines innovation and design processes in small established companies. There is a great interest in this area yet paradoxically the area is under-researched, since most innovation research is done on large companies. The research questions are: How do small established companies carry out their innovation and design processes? and How does the context and novelty of the process and product affect the same processes?

The thesis is built on three research papers that used the research method of multiple case studies of different small established companies. The innovation and design processes found were highly context dependent and were facilitated by committed resources, a creative climate, vision, low family involvement, delegated power and authority, and linkages to external actors such as customers and users. Both experimental cyclical and linear structured design processes were found. The choice of structure is explained by the relative product and process novelty experienced by those developing the product innovation. Linear design processes worked within a low relative novelty situation and cyclical design processes worked no matter the relative novelty. The innovation and design processes found were informal, with a low usage of formal systematic design methods, except in the case of design processes for software. The use of formal systematic methods in small companies seems not always to be efficient, because many of the problems the methods are designed to solve are not present. Customers and users were found to play a large and important role in the innovation and design processes found and gave continuous feedback during the design processes. Innovation processes were found to be intertwined, yielding synergy effects, but it was common that resources were taken from the innovation processes for acute problems that threatened the cash flow. In sum, small established companies have the natural prerequisites to take advantage of lead-user inventions and cyclical design processes. Scarce resources were found to be the main factor hindering innovation, but the examined companies practiced several approaches to increase their resources or use existing scarce resources more efficiently in their innovation and design processes. Examples of these approaches include adopting lead-user inventions and reducing formality in the innovation and design processes.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2009. , 68 p.
Series
Trita-IEO, ISSN 1100-7982 ; 2009:15
Keyword [en]
Innovation process, Design process, Small companies, Novelty, Context
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-11464ISBN: 978-91-7415-487-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-11464DiVA: diva2:276922
Presentation
2009-11-20, Kungliga Tekniska högskolan, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-11-13 Created: 2009-11-13 Last updated: 2010-10-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The use of methodology for product and service development in SMEs: an exploratory study of 18 small companies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The use of methodology for product and service development in SMEs: an exploratory study of 18 small companies
2007 (English)In: Proceedings of the 8th International CINet conference, "Continuous Innovation - Opportunities and Challenges",  Gothenburg,  Sweden, 9-11 September, 2007, 2007Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25323 (URN)
Conference
8th International CINet conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, 9-11 September, 2007
Note
QC 20101018Available from: 2010-10-18 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2010-10-18Bibliographically approved
2. Prerequisites for innovation in small companies: A multiple case study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prerequisites for innovation in small companies: A multiple case study
2008 (English)In: Proceedings of the 9th International CINet Conference, “Radical Challenges in Innovation Management,” Valencia, Spain, 5-9 September 2008, 2008Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25327 (URN)
Conference
9th International CINet Conference in Valencia, 7-9 September, 2008.
Note
QC 20101018Available from: 2010-10-18 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2010-10-18Bibliographically approved
3. Design processes and novelty in small companies: A multiple case study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design processes and novelty in small companies: A multiple case study
2009 (English)In: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design ICED’09, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, 24-27 August 2009, 2009, 265-278 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study explores the design processes in small established companies and investigates how these design processes are executed. How two different kinds of novelty influence the design processes is further examined: the relative novelty of the product being developed and the relative novelty of design processes. The relative novelty of the product is high if it is a radically new product to develop. High relative novelty for design processes typically means no experience or knowledge about design processes. Based on an embedded multiple case study of three small established companies in Sweden, eight different design processes are described and analyzed. The results show that the design processes differ, even within the same company. The results also show that relative novelty affects the design process. If the relative novelty of both the product to be developed and of design processes is low, a linear, structured, and systematic design process was found to work. A design process that is cyclical, experimental, and knowledge-creating seems to work no matter the relative novelty.

Keyword
Design process, small companies, novelty, product innovation engineering
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25331 (URN)
Conference
17th International Conference on Engineering Design ICED’09, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, 24-27 August 2009
Note
QC 20101018Available from: 2010-10-18 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2010-10-18Bibliographically approved

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