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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2020

Stefano Magistretti, Claudio Dell’Era, Federico Frattini and Antonio Messeni Petruzzelli

Several studies show that identity is a critical success factor in design-intensive industries, leading managers and executives to identify solutions that enable firms to…

Abstract

Purpose

Several studies show that identity is a critical success factor in design-intensive industries, leading managers and executives to identify solutions that enable firms to simultaneously innovate while preserving their link with the past. Accordingly, scholars have recently revealed the role of the so-called innovation through tradition strategy. Thus, the purpose of this study/paper is to understand how design intensive firms may exploit knowledge pertaining to the past.

Design/methodology/approach

The research contributes to this line of inquiry by conducting a longitudinal analysis of two leading Italian design-intensive firms, B&B Italia and Cassina S.p.A. Specifically, through almost 30 h of interviews with 11 key informants and the analysis of various secondary sources, a unique database of over 900 products covering the period of 1960-2016 was developed.

Findings

The findings reveal that both firms leverage knowledge from the past mainly to preserve firm identity, as indicated by the two indicators used to capture the use of knowledge pertaining to the past (i.e., design tradition intensity and design tradition depth). In addition, the study shows that the values of these indicators significantly increase when ownership control shifts from family-based to fund-based.

Originality/value

The paper looks at design artifacts as a source of knowledge, exploring how they can support firms in reinforcing their identity. The original contribution to the design through traditional literature is in unveiling the product signs dimension of this particular innovation strategy.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 24 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2017

Naiara Altuna, Claudio Dell’Era, Paolo Landoni and Roberto Verganti

The importance and complexity of proposing radically new meanings are well-established in the literature. However, a limited number of contributions have analyzed how they…

Abstract

Purpose

The importance and complexity of proposing radically new meanings are well-established in the literature. However, a limited number of contributions have analyzed how they can be developed. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the development of radically new meanings at the basis of the Slow Food movement to contribute to the topic.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to better understand how social movements can propose radically new meanings and how companies can take inspiration and build a competitive advantage by leveraging the proposed meanings, the authors deeply analyzed the genealogy of Slow Food, interpreted as an inspiring case study; the authors adopt a narrative approach.

Findings

The analysis of how Slow Food emerged and evolved into an international movement reveals an alternative way to develop innovative meanings in collaboration with groups of radicals. The authors identify three main phases in the evolution of innovative meanings: generation, institutionalization and development.

Practical implications

In terms of managerial implications the authors contribute highlighting the importance of a new type of collaborative innovation: the collaboration with radical circles and social movements in their early stage.

Social implications

From a societal point of view, if the authors acknowledge the importance of social movements in contesting and actively changing institutions, the authors can see the importance for policy makers to create loci and opportunities for the emergence of radical circles and their experimentations.

Originality/value

The authors propose that new meanings are frequently the result of small groups of individuals gathering in radical circles. The core attribute of such circles is group validation. The group supports the Slow Food leader in refining the meaning and confronting the dominant paradigm.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 30 June 2020

Stefano Magistretti, Claudio Dell'Era and Nicola Doppio

Design approaches to innovation are booming in both the academic and practitioner worlds. Tech giants are proposing different methodologies to develop technological…

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1247

Abstract

Purpose

Design approaches to innovation are booming in both the academic and practitioner worlds. Tech giants are proposing different methodologies to develop technological innovation leveraging design principles, for example, Amazon with working backward and Google with Design Sprint. However, little is known on the role of these methodologies in managing the knowledge translation among different stakeholders. This paper aims to investigate how Design Sprint approaches can face digital challenges and foster collaborations.

Design/methodology/approach

Through interviews and participatory observations of ten exploratory cases of SME adoption of the Design Sprint methodology, data were collected, organized, clustered and then validated. Furthermore, by adopting a configuration theory perspective, the data have been processed to contribute to the emergence of two Design Sprint organizational taxonomy.

Findings

Competences, type of design challenge and the process followed emerge from the cases as key drivers of different Design Sprint configurations. Moreover, the configuration theory helped in identifying two Design Sprint taxonomies named Willing and Wondering configurations. Finally, the paper provides managers with practical guidelines on how to leverage these configurations to make this approach more effective for SMEs and how this method helps the knowledge translation.

Originality/value

The value and originality of the paper are in defining Design Sprint from a theoretical point of view and offering practical guidelines on how to adapt it to the particular context of collaborative digital environments of SMEs. Moreover, it contributes to enlarging the relevance of configurational theory in the creative industries.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 58 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 8 April 2021

Stefano Magistretti, Luis Allo, Roberto Verganti, Claudio Dell’Era and Felix Reutter

Mastering innovation in highly regulated markets might require companies to overcome significant barriers. Rules, laws and limitations on social, economic and…

Abstract

Purpose

Mastering innovation in highly regulated markets might require companies to overcome significant barriers. Rules, laws and limitations on social, economic and institutional dimensions can hinder the ability of a company to transfer knowledge within and across organizational boundaries. However, as recent research in innovation management increasingly advocates user involvement and early understanding of user needs as best practices, the inability to freely interact with customers due to highly regulated market restrictions can hinder the company’s capability to innovate. Hence, this paper aims to shed light on how an emerging managerial approach, such as Design Sprint, can support companies operating in highly regulated markets to overcome user involvement limitations and boost human-centered innovation.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper sheds light on how to boost innovation in a highly regulated market by leveraging an in-depth case study. The study investigates the use of the Design Sprint approach adopted by the pharmaceutical multinational Johnson & Johnson to revise the way its R&D department orchestrates the new product development process, overcoming the user involvement challenges of highly regulated markets.

Findings

In analyzing six different projects undertaken in the past two years, the findings illustrate three microfoundational dimensions of the Design Sprint approach in highly regulated markets, the so-called 3T model: team, time and tools. Indeed, deploying the Design Sprint in a highly regulated market has proven that being able to experiment in the early stages, building rough prototypes in real-time and openly collaborating with partners is crucial to boost innovation and anticipate constraints.

Originality/value

The paper sheds light on the Design Sprint approach by initially grounding an emerging managerial approach on organizational and management theory, leveraging the lens of microfoundations. In doing so, this study suggests how Design Sprint is based on the pillars of experimentation, knowledge transfer and co-creation usually neglected in highly regulated markets where user involvement is challenging. Finally, this study discloses the importance of using a design-based methodology in fostering innovation in highly regulated markets.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 25 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2017

Giuseppe Leonardo Pinto, Claudio Dell’Era, Roberto Verganti and Emilio Bellini

Notwithstanding the importance innovation scholars have accredited to design-driven innovation (DDI), no attempts have been made so far to systematically study whether and…

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3176

Abstract

Purpose

Notwithstanding the importance innovation scholars have accredited to design-driven innovation (DDI), no attempts have been made so far to systematically study whether and how this innovation strategy can be used in the retail context in order to gain and nurture competitive advantage. The purpose of this paper is to make a first step towards closing this gap, and therefore understand whether and how companies involved in retail service can create competitive advantage by the adoption of a strategy based on innovation of meanings.

Design/methodology/approach

Due to the complex ecosystem of variables that inevitably influence the problem, the case study approach represents the best option to grasp the different aspects highlighted by the research objectives. The analysis undertook a thorough and systematic comparison with the use of an ad hoc “paired comparison method”, in which common systemic characteristics have been intended as a controlled variable in order to minimise the variance and quantity of factors that can have an impact on the selected case studies; intersystemic differences have been understood as explanatory variables to decree the contribution in terms of novelty in relation to the current paradigm.

Findings

The paper provides empirical insights about how radical innovation in meanings can be a very important lever on which retail firms can act to gain and nurture their competitive advantage.

Research limitations/implications

Of course the study has several limitations, which represent however opportunities for future research. The authors say that the findings, given the exploratory nature of the study, cannot be generalised to any population of firms or markets, rather they should be used as a basis to develop theoretical understanding of a complex phenomenon and draw research propositions and hypotheses to be tested in subsequent deductive empirical research.

Practical implications

This paper highlights the importance to think, beyond shopping experience, at the role of new meanings when designing service innovation in retail firms. Although the findings do not have statistical relevance, given the exploratory nature of the study, they suggest that DDI can be a viable option for retail firm managers to improve their firms’ competitiveness.

Originality/value

The study presented in this paper has merit to broaden the generalisability of the DDI model to other industries, different from those where it was initially studied and applied. This is an important step toward conceptualising DDI as a novel management paradigm.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 26 January 2010

Claudio Dell'Era and Roberto Verganti

Nowadays, the strategic role of design is reinforced by the increased attention that customers pay to the aesthetic, symbolic and emotional values of products. These…

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1150

Abstract

Purpose

Nowadays, the strategic role of design is reinforced by the increased attention that customers pay to the aesthetic, symbolic and emotional values of products. These values can be communicated through the appropriate combination of product signs (such as form, colours, materials and so on), which gives meaning to a product. Consequently, companies are investing substantial efforts in appropriate strategies for the development of product signs and languages. Firms must understand how knowledge about new products signs diffuses in industrial networks in order to be able to access and exploit it. The purpose of this paper is to ask, does the capability to propose new product trends allow companies to be recognized as innovators? Does the early adoption of product signs positively affect consumer preferences?

Design/methodology/approach

An empirical analysis is conducted on strategies regarding a specific type of product within the Italian furniture industry (namely, chairs). In particular, the paper explores the roles played by furniture companies in the diffusion processes of product signs. Analysing approximately 300 chairs marketed by 35 leading Italian furniture manufacturers between 1996 and 2005, the paper explores different strategies adopted in the diffusion processes of product signs.

Findings

The empirical results illustrate how trend‐setters are able to attain the best performance in terms of innovativeness and, in part, consumer preferences by forwarding new interpretations of existing material combinations starting at the early phases of diffusion.

Originality/value

The paper analyses the different roles played by companies in the diffusion processes of product signs and thus provides interesting insights regarding the exploitation of the industrial resources of companies.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 26 April 2011

Claudio Dell'Era, Tommaso Buganza and Roberto Verganti

Product functionalities aim to satisfy the operative needs of the customer, while product meanings (i.e. the emotion and the symbolic values represented by the product…

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1300

Abstract

Purpose

Product functionalities aim to satisfy the operative needs of the customer, while product meanings (i.e. the emotion and the symbolic values represented by the product) aim to satisfy the emotional and socio‐cultural needs of the customer. What consumers are increasingly looking for in consumer products are new forms of psychological satisfaction that go beyond normal and simple consumption; today, more than ever, products define their own presence not only through their attributes, but also through the meanings that they assume, through the dialogue that they establish with the user, and also through the symbolic nature that they emanate. Figures of speech can be exploited to emphasise a message or a meaning. The purpose of this paper is to propose an application of rhetorical figures to product design that will make them more communicative.

Design/methodology/approach

Specifically, the authors propose the “Rhetorical Innovation Process” as a methodology that foresees the application of figures of speech as semantic operators. First, the authors discuss several product innovations that can be interpreted according to the “Rhetorical Innovation Process”. Then, a brief workshop assignment in the strategic design course at the Faculty of Industrial Design of Politecnico di Milano explored the potentialities of the method in relation to different product typologies: 40 Italian master students were divided into eight groups (five industrial design students each) in order to develop five products per group.

Findings

The results obtained by design students demonstrated as figures of speech can stimulate associations with other contexts and modifications to existing architecture. The exploration of the “rhetorical innovation process” in collaboration with eight design student teams has shown that this method can support and enrich the concept generation phase. Moreover, four configurations proposed by the “rhetorical innovation process” allow one to generate different alternatives supporting the creative process and allowing the identification of strengths and weaknesses associated to each solution.

Originality/value

The method described in the paper elucidates the structure and process adopted by several designers and also illustrates an effective framework for communicating choices to their clients. In particular, the cross‐context associations proposed in the “rhetorical innovation process” provide additional insights and incentives during the concept generation.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 21 August 2009

Claudio Dell'era and Roberto Verganti

The increasing importance that customers give to the aesthetic, symbolic and emotional value of products leads companies to approach the product design as a means to…

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3046

Abstract

Purpose

The increasing importance that customers give to the aesthetic, symbolic and emotional value of products leads companies to approach the product design as a means to create a competitive advantage. Considering that competing through design involves the development of new product languages and signs, the ability to develop products that convey innovative meanings and values to users becomes a critical factor of success. Each product has a particular language and meaning on which companies can innovate. This kind of innovation requires access to dispersed and tacit knowledge about socio‐cultural trends and emerging phenomena in society, which lends itself to a discourse on design. Designers can support companies by accessing, interpreting and exploiting the knowledge about emerging socio‐cultural models and latent market needs. The purpose of this paper is to explore and analyse the characteristics of designer portfolios developed by innovative and successful companies.

Design/methodology/approach

An empirical study is conducted on the designers of 91 Italian furniture companies to analyse the contribution of designers to company innovation and to consumer preferences. By analysing 630 different collaborations between companies and designers over the development of 1,722 products, the paper explores different strategies adopted by companies to collaborate with designers. Specifically, the authors compare three dimensions of the designer portfolio that are developed by different groups of companies: size, internationalisation and multi‐nationality. The authors use the analysis of variance formula to identify characteristics of designer portfolios that were significantly distinct in their achievement of innovation and consumer interest.

Findings

The empirical results suggest interesting managerial applications in terms of modalities to access designers: for example, innovative companies often collaborate with designers coming from different nations. One possible explanation for this is that the combination of different approaches and cultural frameworks may allow innovators to capture stimuli and emerging phenomena in socio‐cultural contexts far from their territorial boundaries, consequently developing innovative product languages and meanings.

Originality/value

This is one of the few quantitative studies that analyze the relationships between collaborative innovation strategies and performances.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 29 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 25 January 2008

Claudio Dell'Era, Alessio Marchesi, Roberto Verganti and Francesco Zurlo

The main objective of this article is to propose an interpretive model that attempts to decipher a product's values in terms of functionality, usability and meaning. This…

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1669

Abstract

Purpose

The main objective of this article is to propose an interpretive model that attempts to decipher a product's values in terms of functionality, usability and meaning. This model can support companies in better integrating these values in their product offering and in defining the most adequate innovation strategies that they can adopt.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted an empirical analysis on more than 450 products from the Italian furniture industry. Moreover, using an interpretative model 50 product signs were mapped (materials, surfaces, colours, etc.) for each product. The obtained database was analyzed via the principal component analysis (PCA) statistical technique with the intent to identify dominant product languages. In fact, interpreting a product language as a set of product signs, the article describes an objective process able to identify dominant product languages as combinations of different product signs.

Findings

The interpretive model described in this article represents a first result in itself. In addition, by mapping the dynamics of dominant product languages, it has been demonstrated that they evolve differently in relation to several product typologies. In turn, the possibility of “brokering” dominant product languages from one product typology to another and from one industry to another has been verified.

Practical implications

First of all, this model can support companies in the identification of emerging trends and, consequently, allows them to develop product semantic forecasts. In addition, the analysis of dominant product languages over time can also allow a company to propose combinations of product signs typical of past periods. Finally, the identification of dominant product languages can also allow companies to analyze the state‐of‐the‐art of the industry and, consequently, identify different ways to propose innovation to the market.

Originality/value

Most of conducted researches related to product languages have shown primarily a qualitative‐based approach, in which the observations are made by a restricted set of design experts on a subset of representative products. In contrast with the current literature in this research field, this article describes an objective process that is able to identify dominant product languages.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2015

Naiara Altuna, Anna Maria Contri, Claudio Dell'Era, Federico Frattini and Paolo Maccarrone

Social innovations are defined as innovative products or services motivated by the goal of meeting a social need, with the opportunity to create new social relationships…

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2147

Abstract

Purpose

Social innovations are defined as innovative products or services motivated by the goal of meeting a social need, with the opportunity to create new social relationships or collaborations. Although developing social innovations has been the primary concern of non-profit organizations so far, there are signs of an increasing involvement in this type of innovations of for-profit firms, in an attempt to accomplish their corporate social responsibility strategies. This notwithstanding, there is very limited knowledge on how for-profit organizations can develop a capability to manage social innovation projects. The purpose of this paper is to provide exploratory evidence to fill this gap.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents and discusses a case study of a firm that has been involved in social innovation for years. It is Intesa Sanpaolo, a for-profit organization that leads the Italian banking sector.

Findings

The case study points to the existence of three managerial antecedents of a superior ability in social innovation: integrating CSR in its business strategy with a strong commitment from the top management; separating the activities concerned with the development of social innovations from the rest of the organization, following to the structural ambidexterity model; applying the principles of open innovation to the development of social innovations, by involving in particular non-profit organizations as a source of ideas for new social innovation projects and leveraging them to enable adoption of the new products and services.

Originality/value

So far there is very limited knowledge on how for-profit organizations can develop a capability to manage social innovation projects. This paper provides exploratory evidence to fill this gap.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

Keywords

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