Harnessing the 'essential tension' of design: The complex relationship between the firm and designer consultants
AbstractA central factor which characterizes design-related innovative activities is that a major source of knowledge – that is designers – is very often located outside the firm. This raises a central management issue for the firm and unavoidably generates a tension between designer consultants and the firm which I name the essential tension. The aim of this paper is to shed some light on this complex relationship on the ground of the evidence provided by a multiple case study. The findings confirm that designer consultants can make a substantial contribution in enhancing firms’ innovation capabilities. We show that a better understanding of the types of knowledge that designers need for their activity is key. This affects the way designer consultants are integrated within the organizational structure of the firm, and it also impinges on the strategies put forward by firms to manage this relationship in order to gain a competitive advantage driven by innovation. Implications include the crucial role played by the product manager, the strategies to foster trust and to coordinate designers.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 22002.
Date of creation: 09 Apr 2010
Date of revision:
industrial design; innovation; product development; case study;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- M11 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Business Administration - - - Production Management
- O32 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-04-24 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2010-04-24 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-PPM-2010-04-24 (Project, Program & Portfolio Management)
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