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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, Sweden.
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
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:hj:diva-42237DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-133964ISBN: 9789176856093 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-42237DiVA, id: diva2:1268891
Public defence
2017-02-10, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, 10:15 (English)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2018-12-07 Created: 2018-12-07 Last updated: 2018-12-07Bibliographically approved

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Eslami, Mohammad H.

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