An Intimate Approach to the Management and Integration of Design Knowledge for Small Firms
In August 2012, I presented a paper entitled ‘‘The Fuzzy Front End of Product Design Projects: How Universities Can Manage Knowledge Transfer and Creation’’ at the International Design Management Research Conference. Via a series of design projects and design support schemes, the paper investigated how a higher education institution with a particular approach to the management and integrating of knowledge on behalf of small ﬁrms could bring together manufacturers, subcontractors, design consultancies, market researchers, intel-lectual property specialists, funding bodies, and other higher education institutions to make for an extremely effective design support network. In particular, the paper dealt with the dynamics of knowledge acquisition during the fuzzy front end of product design projects. It was suggested that, through this novel approach, the management and integration of the different players involved in new product development (NPD), higher education institutions could help small ﬁrms in particular achieve effective knowledge transfer, develop new knowledge, and generally reduce and manage uncertainty in the process and therefore utilize design more effectively in generating new products and increasing proﬁtability. This article investigates the work that has taken place in the ensuing years, including material that led to outstanding impact in the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework evidencing signiﬁcant economic growth as a result of this approach to the management of the NPD process for small ﬁrms. It proposes that the management and integration of those factors leading to successful NPD for small ﬁrms require an intimate style of engagement to be effective, demanding a broad knowledge of, and/or an ability to manage, those factors pertinent to the needs of small ﬁrms. Based on four case studies, this article attempts to identify the nature of this intimate approach and therefore its potential signiﬁcance.
Open access article
Citation : Ford, P. and Terris, D. (2017) An intimate approach to the management and integration of design knowledge for small firms. Design Managment Journal, 12(1), pp. 58-70.
ISSN : 1942-5074
Research Group : Design and New Product Development
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Design