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Knowledge integration with customers in collaborative product development project
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Project Innovations and Entrepreneurship. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Driven by rapid technological developments, greater customer expectations, and increased product complexity,product development processes increasingly rely on the integration of dispersed specialist knowledge.Consequently, many industrial firms are changing the way they approach product development. Productdevelopment increasingly relies on knowledge integration across firm boundaries. Customers are one of the mostindispensable sources of knowledge, and their knowledge needs to be integrated during product development.However, little is known about the processes and mechanisms used to integrate customer knowledge in productdevelopment.Therefore, firms must devise processes and mechanisms that support knowledge integration withcustomers. This thesis aims to investigate knowledge integration with customers in collaborative productdevelopment.

The work described in this thesis combines a case study with a survey approach. More specifically, five casestudies were conducted at three industrial manufacturing firms. Data were collected in 46 interviews, along withinformal discussions, workshops, and secondary material. The case studies revealed the role of knowledgeintegration, knowledge integration mechanisms, and the importance of contextual factors related to the customer’stechnical capability, and the locus of initiative for the product development project. A cross-sectional survey wasperformed in order to ascertain the role of knowledge integration and its effect on innovation performance and theeffect of firms and customers’ technical capability and locus of initiative on knowledge integration withcustomers. The survey study generated 216 responses from firms operating in the Swedish manufacturingindustry.

This thesis consists of a compiled summary and five appended papers. The results in these provide the basis formodelling knowledge integration with customers. The findings confirm that integrating knowledge withcustomers in product development is associated with better innovation performance. Further, the results point tothe dynamic characteristics of knowledge integration in product development processes. More specifically, firmstend to apply different combinations of mechanisms in different phases, depending on the intended content of theknowledge contribution of the customer and the requirements of each phase in the development process. Inaddition, the degree of technical capability, internal integration capability, and locus of initiative are importantfactors influencing knowledge integration processes. This thesis sheds new light on collaborative productdevelopment with customers by demonstrating that knowledge, and particularly the integration of knowledgeacross firm boundaries, is a central property of product development. The study focuses on industrial andmanufacturing firms, complementing current perspectives on the role of customers in other sectors. In thisparticular sector, complexity and system-wide implications need to be resolved together with customers throughknowledge integration activities. An important implication of the thesis is that firms need to devise mechanismsfor knowledge integration with customers, and be prepared to redevise these as the firm progresses through theproduct development phases.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2017. , p. 101
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1820
Keywords [en]
Product development, knowledge integration, customer collaboration, technical capability, locus of initiative, internal integration, business and economic, product development, innovation management, business administration
National Category
Business Administration Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Other Mechanical Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-133964DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-133964ISBN: 9789176856093 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-133964DiVA, id: diva2:1065934
Public defence
2017-02-10, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-01-17 Created: 2017-01-17 Last updated: 2017-01-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Knowledge integration with customers in collaborative product development projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Knowledge integration with customers in collaborative product development projects
2016 (English)In: The journal of business & industrial marketing, ISSN 0885-8624, E-ISSN 2052-1189, Vol. 31, no 7, p. 889-900Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose This paper addresses the need for managerial and organizational approaches to knowledge integration with customer in collaborative product development projects. The purpose is to identify the roles of customers in terms of the customerᅵs knowledge contribution and timing of customer collaboration in the product development process. Design/methodology/approach This study is based on a multi-case study approach, comprising four product development projects from two large international suppliers. The cases were selected following the theoretical replication logic. Data consist of interviews, workshops, and secondary information. For each of the cases, a within case analysis was performed followed by a cross-case analysis. Findings The study shows that the customerᅵs knowledge contribution is aligned with the specific requirements of each phase of the product development. Three specific customer roles are identified and connected to the customerᅵs knowledge contribution and the timing of customer collaboration. The technical capability of the customer and the locus of initiative of the product development project are affecting the prerequisites for knowledge integration with customers. Research limitations/implications The study is performed from the perspective of supplier firms. We have not been able to capture the perspective of the customer in detail. As it is expected that both customers and suppliers benefit from a systematic knowledge exchange, future studies could examine knowledge contributions in both directions. Practical implications The findings can be used to devise effective approaches for collaborative product development with customers related to the customerᅵs knowledge contribution and the timing of customer collaboration and provide guidance to firms seeking to benefit from knowledge residing at customers. Originality/value This is one of the first studies to focus on the integration of customersᅵ knowledge in product development processes. This paper contributes to the customerᅵsupplier collaboration literature by presenting further insight into customersᅵ knowledge contributions, the timing of customer collaboration in product development processes and the prerequisites for knowledge integration with customers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
AMER SOC MECHANICAL ENGINEERS, 2016
National Category
Economics Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-130858 (URN)10.1108/JBIM-05-2014-0099 (DOI)000393884400006 ()
Note

Funding agencies: European Community [644938]

Available from: 2016-08-29 Created: 2016-08-29 Last updated: 2017-12-18Bibliographically approved
2. Internal integration in complex collaborative product development projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Internal integration in complex collaborative product development projects
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Innovation Management, ISSN 1363-9196, E-ISSN 1757-5877, Vol. 20, no 1, p. 1-28, article id 1650008Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While the importance of internal integration for effective inter-firm collaboration with suppliers is widely acknowledged, it is presently unclear how it is achieved in complex collaborative product development projects. This paper aims to address this gap in extant knowledge by investigating the internal integration approaches and exploring related project management challenges. Specifically, three internal integration approaches are found, namely integration based on multidirectional, frequent interaction; integration based on delimited, problem-solving; and based on unidirectional, information-oriented interaction. The study findings suggest that internal integration approaches are related to the degree of uncertainty in the subsystems of the suppliers, rather than the overall product system. Consequently, in complex product development projects involving many internal functions and several different suppliers, the specific supplier tasks, rather than the overall project structure and aims, determine the mode of internal integration required. This complexity creates important challenges for organisation, and requires flexibility in internal integration approaches.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Imperial College Press, 2016
Keywords
Internal integration, supplier involvement, task uncertainty, collaborative projects, subsystem, case study
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-114889 (URN)10.1142/S1363919616500080 (DOI)000387132300008 ()2-s2.0-84959565960 (Scopus ID)
Note

The previous status of this article was Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-03-05 Created: 2015-03-05 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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