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The fuzzy front end of product innovation processes: the influence of uncertainty, equivocality, and dissonance in social processes of evolving product concepts
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Developing new products is essential for the long-term survival of companies. The fuzzy front end (FFE) is the first phase in the product innovation process and is considered an important determinant for successful product innovation. This thesis addresses the social process in which individuals evolve a product concept in the fuzzy front end. In the FFE individuals must evolve a clear view of 'customer', 'competitor', 'resource' and 'technical solution' aspects regarding the product concept before a go/no-go decision is made and the product concept proceeds to implementation in the development phase. The clearness required regarding these four aspects is acquired through the social process, where individuals think, act, and interact in relation to ‘the self' and significant others. The social process in FFEs is addressed through three research questions. The first general research question is; (1) how do product concepts evolve through the social process in success and failure FFEs? From the general research questions, two specific research questions are addressed: (2) how do uncertainty, equivocality and dissonance influence the social process when evolving a product concept in the FFE? And (3) how do individuals cope with uncertainty, equivocality and dissonance when evolving a product concept in the FFE? To answer the research questions, data have been collected using the repertory grid technique, the techniques for analyzing social networks and alter-ego networks, and narratives. The data collected derives from four companies which were selected to maximize differences in terms of technologies between companies and thus, differences in the FFEs. Within the four companies 32 fuzzy front ends of product innovation processes have been studied, and one success and one failure FFEs are described for each company. In total, 22 respondents were interviewed regarding 23 successful and 9 failure projects. The data have been analyzed on both the individual and group level. The analyses involved repertory grid analysis in order to identify how individuals construct uncertainty, equivocality and dissonance in their frames of reference. The repertory grid analyses also provide information about relations in the social process regarding thoughts and interactions in success and failure FFEs and distinctive thought patterns, i.e. homogeneity on the group level. The analyses of narratives provide pictures and information about the FFEs and how individuals addressed uncertainty, equivocality and dissonance. The main findings are that (1) dissonance is a central concept to address in the fuzzy front end in order to understand how clearness of a product concept evolves, and (2) the identification of relations between thought, action, and interaction on the one hand and uncertainty, equivocality, and dissonance on the other, which helps us understand the differences between uncertainty, equivocality and dissonance. Lastly, the findings (3) show that differences exist in the social process based on the type of technology characterizing daily production in the companies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2010. , 280 p.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keyword [en]
Innovations, Fuzzy front end, Business / Economics - Business studies
Keyword [sv]
Innovationer, Ekonomi - Företagsekonomi
Research subject
Accounting and Control
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-17291Local ID: 2a46bf90-e1a4-11df-8b36-000ea68e967bISBN: 978-91-7439-172-5OAI: diva2:990293
Godkänd; 2010; 20101027 (sven_a); DISPUTATION Ämnesområde: Företagsekonomi Opponent: Professor Helén Anderson, Jönköping International Business School Ordförande: Professor Einar Häckner, Luleå tekniska universitet Tid: Tisdag den 13 december 2010, kl. 10.00 Plats: A117Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29Bibliographically approved

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