Technology development process and platform for efficient innovation - The perspective of a supplier in the aerospace industry
Abstract: Technology and innovation has received substantial research attention from a multitude of perspectives during the last 40 years. Typically, technology development often has a fuzzy goal of building knowledge or demonstrating feasibility, is characterized by a high degree of initial uncertainty, and is in need of extensive experimentation. Adopting structure and normative models in this type of development is a balancing act between the rational needs of the corporation and the need for exploration and innovation. The purpose of this research project is to develop operational support for companies pursuing innovation and technology development. In this work, two different approaches to managing the inherent uncertainty in technology development have been explored: applying a platform formulation and describing the technology development process in the form of a normative model. A qualitative research approach has been chosen focusing primarily on one particular company, Volvo Aero Corporation (VAC). VAC is characterized by low production volume, complex products, and business-to-business relationships with a limited customer base. The research has been conducted in three different studies where focus groups, semi-structured interviews and participatory action research have been the primary data collection methods. Given the context of the case company VAC, the following conclusions can be drawn from this work: A platform formulation in different dimensions, primarily regarding technology, can support both internal and market efficiency. A hypothetical platform prescription has been proposed where the corporate context has been considered. Normative process models based on the stage-gate model can benefit technology development, given that they are adapted to the explorative nature of such uncertain development. The possibility to generalize regarding these conclusions at this stage is limited, given that most of the research has been conducted in one company. However, external validity is strengthened by similar results found in literature. Finally, the transferability of the results is supported by a thorough description of the studied company and its industrial context.
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