Academic journal article International Journal of Design

The Design Innovation Spectrum: An Overview of Design Influences on Innovation for Manufacturing Companies

Academic journal article International Journal of Design

The Design Innovation Spectrum: An Overview of Design Influences on Innovation for Manufacturing Companies

Article excerpt

Introduction

The role of design in businesses has expanded over the years: no longer simply about enhancing aesthetics and functionalities, it now makes a critical contribution to fostering organisations’ innovation, to enable companies to increase their competitiveness (Blaich, 1988; Brown, 2009; Fraser, 2009; Gemser, 1997; Gorb, 1986; Mozota, 1990; Neumeier, 2008; Press & Cooper, 2003; Swann & Birke, 2005; Trueman & Jobber, 1998). The influence of design for innovation can be described as a creative process: its outcome enables a company to increase innovativeness by using the full spectrum of design, including designing (action to create a product), design strategy (management of the design process), and corporate-level design thinking (the philosophy and method of design applied to business management). This is crucial in any organisation as it demonstrates design’s contribution to the extensive areas of innovation where innovation is still an important agenda for top-level managers in companies around the world (Boston Consulting Group, 2014; PricewaterhouseCoopers [PwC], 2014), and is considered an essential element for a successful company (Department of Trade and Industry [DTI], 2006; Hansen & Birkinshaw, 2007; Jolly, 2010; Love, Roper, & Du, 2009; PwC, 2013a; Tucker, 2001).

In this research, the extensive role of design and its influences on innovation are studied in a context of manufacturing because of the decline of industry despite its significant contribution for economic growth and raising living standards (Manyika et al., 2012). The economic trend of the world’s seven major advanced economies (G7)-Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, and the UK-shows an increased proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) for service industries compared with manufacturing industry. This change in composition is most noticeable in the UK where the GDP share of manufacturing was the highest among the G7 in 1948 (36% normal gross value added-GVA) but the lowest in 2013 with only 10% normal GVA (Banks, Hamroush, Taylor, & Hardie, 2014). The consequences of this economic imbalance were most noticeable during the 2008 global economic downturn which showed how the overreliance on service industries can cause great instability in a nation’s economy, and demonstrated how manufacturing can contribute towards stabilising and balancing the economy (EEF, 2009; Prest, 2008; PwC, 2009; Temple, 2011). The UK government is therefore becoming increasingly aware of the importance of manufacturing industry for UK economic growth and competitiveness (Department for Business Innovation and Skills [BIS], 2010b) and innovation in manufacturing has become an increasingly important development area for both the UK government and industry (BIS, 2011; PwC, 2013b). This paper uses UK manufacturing companies as a case study of advanced countries-and perhaps developing countries-which have in the past used manufacturing to boost their economic competitiveness but are now experiencing a shift in focus to other industries, including services, to show how design innovation can help increase innovativeness in manufacturing companies to gain global competitiveness and enhance national economy.

The contribution of design for manufacturing companies to increase innovativeness is therefore an important agenda. However, despite the interlinking relationships between design and innovation the wider spectrum of design-including at the operational level (the action of designing products/services), strategic level (the methodological processes), and corporate level (the philosophical principle) of business-is sparsely used in UK manufacturing companies (Cox, 2005; Dumas & Whitfield, 1989; Livesey & Moultrie, 2009; Na & Choi, 2012). This is partly because of the marginalisation of design in innovation (Cumming, 1998; Freel, 2000; OECD/Eurostat, 2005) and the generalisation of innovation in design studies (Gemser, Candi, & Ende, 2011; Visser, 2009). …

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