Managing Integrated Product Design in a Highly Competitive Environment

Koenraad Debackere, Faculty of Economics and Applied Economics, K.U. Leuven, Naamsestraat 69, B-3000 Leuven
Koenraad.Debackere@econ.kuleuven.ac.be

1. Introduction
The effects of globalization are of such a nature that they exert increasing pressures on companies to develop new products more effectively and efficiently. In order to meet this challenge, the organisation of the new product development process has received ample attention both in the academic literature and in the practitioner literature. As a consequence, a myriad of methods to design new products better, faster and cheaper has been developed. These methods aim at facilitating concurrent product design and engineering, integrating both organizational and functional aspects of the design process so as to maximize value creation. Thanks to the advent of families of novel design technologies, concurrency at the technical and functional level has become a reality at last. In this contribution, recent insights on the use and the impact of design technologies in meeting economic challenges and pressures are reported and discussed.

2. Technology and the black box of innovation
This contribution is about the ways in which companies develop both the technical and the functional innovations that become embedded into their products. More specifically, I want to discuss the ways in which design technologies such as virtual product design and prototyping, known as parametric design technologies, in combination with design methodologies and appropriate organizational approaches, are shaping and reconfiguring the organisation of the product development process. As a consequence, this contribution is concerned with innovation operations rather than innovation strategy. Only an in-depth understanding of these operations allows to gradually open the black box of the new product development process. However, this does not mean that these operations are devoid of strategic significance. I therefore will conclude the discussion by arguing that the integration of these operations into an “Integrated Design Capability” can sustain a firm's competitive position, and hence, turn innovation into a formidable strategic weapon for the company.

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