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How Can Product Semantics Be Embedded In Product Technologies? The Case Of The Italian Wine Industry

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    (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering – Politecnico di Milano, Piazza L. da Vinci 32 20133 Milano, Italy)



    (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering — Politecnico di Milano, Italy; Department of Engineering — Università del Sannio, Italy)

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    Since the beginning of the 1990s, innovation management literature has attempted to overcome some oversimplified dichotomies coming from well-established theories (e.g., open vs. closed, external vs. internal, cooperation vs. competition, knowledge vs. learning). The design-push approach to the study of new product development has demonstrated that technology-push and market-pull are not divorced, since each successful new product is based on improvements in both technological performance and semantic features, which together sustain the new products to act as text that helps people generate new meanings in their daily sense-making activities. In this explorative study, we try to verify the extension of the design-push approach from science-based and specialised supplier industries (e.g., optical instruments, electronics, furniture) to more traditional, supplier-dominated industries (in this case, the wine industry), where its use could be counterintuitive. We then explain new product development, moving from the integration of technological and semantic dimensions of new products. We present the results of eleven case studies of successful new product development processes developed by companies located in Italy, known as one of the most innovative wine-producing areas in Europe. We assume that product innovation in traditional industry is only incremental, since technologies, operations and marketing processes are expected to be stable and predictable. Nevertheless, the empirical results show that the new product development process in the wine industry offers empirical insights that lead to a better understanding of the design-push approach; designing a new wine means not only to achieve new technical features but also to generate new product meanings. Through the identification of practices enabling a coherent innovation of product functions and meanings, this empirical research allows the enrichment of the design driven model. The coherence between the technology, function, language and message of a new wine can be obtained with different practices and development paths: the integrated approach, the semantic-oriented approach and the function-oriented approach. Additionally, the network of actors that wine companies access changes according to the innovation approach they adopt.

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    Article provided by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. in its journal International Journal of Innovation Management.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 03 ()
    Pages: 411-439

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    Handle: RePEc:wsi:ijimxx:v:13:y:2009:i:03:p:411-439
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