The Interaction between Design Research and Technological Research in Manufacturing Firm

The Interaction between Design Research and Technological Research in Manufacturing Firm

Satoru Goto (Ritsumeikan University, Japan), Shuichi Ishida (Ritsumeikan University, Japan), Kiminori Gemba (Ritsumeikan University, Japan) and Kazaru Yaegashi (Ritsumeikan University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5836-3.ch009
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Design has significantly affected innovation and the discipline of design management focuses on meanings that it brings about a drastic change in life style of consumers. Although the relationship between design and technology is one of the important issues for the innovation of meanings, there were only a few studies which suggested the comprehensive model that includes design and technology. Verganti proposed the concept of design driven innovation, which regarded a design process of NPD as a research activity, and demonstrated a relationship between the technological research and the design research. In particular, he examined deeply the mechanism of the design research. In order to deepen his discussion, this chapter aims to suggest some propositions and a comprehensive model related to the interaction between the design research and the technological research. The authors utilize the concepts of exploration and exploitation for their framework. It shows that an augmenting of both researches may create effectively radical meanings or technologies and an integration of both researches may create radical meanings and technologies concurrently. In the case study of FPD industry, this chapter examines how some companies create competitive advantages by both researches and the commoditization of technology may cause the transition to the design research from the technological research as source of the competitive advantages. Additionally, the chapter suggests the strategic and organizational issues for conducting the design research and the technological research interactively in the discussion section.
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Design has recently been recognized as an important source that achieves competitive advantages. Many design-intensive companies have actually made a good profit (Hertenstein, Platt, & Veryzer, 2005; Gemser & Leenders, 2001; Walsh, 1995; Walsh, Roy, & Bruce, 1998). Many researchers in the design management discipline have demonstrated the efficacy of design (Bayazit, 2004; Borja, 2003; Bloch, 2011; Goodrich, 1995; Hertenstein & Platt, 1997). Additionally, the researchers in the marketing discipline have demonstrated the aesthetic value (Bloch, 1995; Sewall, 1978) and branding (Kreuzbauer & Malter, 2005). In the past, industrial designers have played a significant role in designing a package for finished products, and a product form for differentiation from competing products. As preferences of consumers become more multifaceted, to change emotional and symbolic values of products (meanings and languages) have been required for industrial designers (Dell’Era & Verganti, 2007). Therefore, design has become important not only for marketing, but also for NPD (Clark & Fujimoto, 1990; Oakley, 1986; Walsh, 1996).

The research in the marketing discipline focuses on what to create. On the other hand, the research in the innovation and engineering discipline focuses on how to produce (Rao & Patel, 2011; Andrade-Campos, 2011). A significant difference between the viewpoint of marketing and innovation exists in the perspective of technology. Therefore, it is important to describe the relationship between technology and design. Verganti (2011) proposed the concept of technological epiphanies. According to the framework of design driven innovation (Verganti, 2006), he showed how to link new meanings to technologies. In his model, the definition of design is “Design is making sense (of things)” (Krippendorff, 1989). He explained that a radical meaning was created to improve emotional and symbolic value of a product and defined the process to create radical meanings as the design research that was different from the traditional design activity such as styling. In addition, most of researchers define the irrational value as a meaning. Chiksentmihy and Rochberg-Halton (1981) studied the significance of material possessions in contemporary urban life, and of the ways people carve meaning out of their domestic environment. According to their definition, the things don’t have the meaning unless consumers pay attention to them. Hirchman (1982) discussed an importance of symbolic innovations as well as technological innovations. He defined the symbolic innovations as communicative devices representative of different lifestyles. He mentioned that the technology innovations changed the tangible attributes of products and the symbolic innovations changed intangible attributes of ones. However, technologies are likely to change intangible attributes, so that to make clear what kind of the technologies change the intangible attributes and create the symbolic innovations. This chapter defines the research activity to create the radical meanings as a design research (Verganti, 2009) whereas a technology research aims at creating the radical technology.

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