To read this content please select one of the options below:

Productivity of product design and engineering processes: Unexplored territory for production management techniques?

Johannes Hinckeldeyn (Department Mechanical Engineering and Production, Hamburg University of Applied Science, Hamburg, Germany)
Rob Dekkers (Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Jochen Kreutzfeldt (Institute of Technical Logistics, Hamburg Technical University, Hamburg, Germany)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 2 April 2015




Maintaining and improving productivity of product design and engineering processes has been a paramount challenge for design-driven companies, which are characterised a high degree of development of products and processes in order to meet particular customer requirements. Literature on this issue is fragmented and dispersed and a concise and systematic overview is lacking. Hence, it remains unclear, which methods are applicable for design-driven companies to improve the productivity of limitedly available engineering resources (a challenge companies and nations face currently). The purpose of this paper is to develop such a systematic overview.


An unusual approach was utilised by combining the outcomes from a systematic literature review and the results of a Delphi study. From both research approaches complementary and overlapping methods for improving the productivity of product design and engineering processes could be drawn.


The unique systematic overview presents 27 methods to increase the productivity, effectiveness and efficiency of product design and engineering processes of design-driven companies. Moreover, the study finds that methods for improving effectiveness are preferred over methods for improving efficiency and that limitations with regard to the availability of resources are often not considered.

Research limitations/implications

During the development of the systematic overview, a lack of empirical evidence to assess the actual impact of productivity improvement methods was discovered. This shortcoming demonstrates the need for more conceptual and empirical work in this domain. More studies are needed to test and confirm the usefulness of the proposed methods.

Practical implications

Nevertheless, design-driven companies, which struggle to increase the productivity of their product design and engineering processes, can systematically select improvement methods from the overview according to their impact on productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. However, companies should keep in mind, whether effectiveness of product design and engineering can really be increased without considering limitations in engineering resources.


Therefore, the systematic overview provides a valuable map of the unexplored territory of productivity improvement methods for product design and engineering for both practitioners and researchers. For the latter ones, it creates directions for empirical investigations in order to explore and to compare methods for the improvement of productivity of product design and engineering processes.



The authors would like to thank all participants of the Delphi study for their participation and valuable feedback, which made this methodological framework possible.


Hinckeldeyn, J., Dekkers, R. and Kreutzfeldt, J. (2015), "Productivity of product design and engineering processes: Unexplored territory for production management techniques?", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 458-486.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles