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This paper deals with the organizing of interactive product development. Developing products in interaction between firms may provide benefits in terms of specialization, increased innovation, and possibilities to perform development activities in parallel. However, the differentiation of product development among a number of firms also implies that various dependencies need to be dealt with across firm boundaries. How dependencies may be dealt with across firms is related to how product development is organized. The purpose of the paper is to explore dependencies and how interactive product development may be organized with regard to these dependencies.
The analytical framework is based on the industrial network approach, and deals with the development of products in terms of adaptation and combination of heterogeneous resources. There are dependencies between resources, that is, they are embedded, implying that no resource can be developed in isolation. The characteristics of and dependencies related to four main categories of resources (products, production facilities, business units and business relationships) provide a basis for analyzing the organizing of interactive product development.
Three in-depth case studies are used to explore the organizing of interactive product development with regard to dependencies. The first two cases are based on the development of the electrical system and the seats for Volvo’s large car platform (P2), performed in interaction with Delphi and Lear respectively. The third case is based on the interaction between Scania and Dayco/DFC Tech for the development of various pipes and hoses for a new truck model.
The analysis is focused on what different dependencies the firms considered and dealt with, and how product development was organized with regard to these dependencies. It is concluded that there is a complex and dynamic pattern of dependencies that reaches far beyond the developed product as well as beyond individual business units. To deal with these dependencies, development may be organized in teams where several business units are represented. This enables interaction between different business units’ resource collections, which is important for resource adaptation as well as for innovation. The delimiting and relating functions of the team boundary are elaborated upon and it is argued that also teams may be regarded as actors. It is also concluded that a modular product structure may entail a modular organization with regard to the teams, though, interaction between business units and teams is needed. A strong connection between the technical structure and the organizational structure is identified and it is concluded that policies regarding the technical structure (e.g. concerning “carry-over”) cannot be separated from the management of the organizational structure (e.g. the supplier structure). The organizing of product development is in itself a complex and dynamic task that needs to be subject to interaction between business units.
In the first paper, Fredrik von Corswant offers a firm level theory of interfirm network relationships for blending resources effectively for NPD. Thick descriptions of NPD processes in three case studies in the transportation vehicle industries illustrate the theory. A key conclusion: modular product development may entail a modular organization with regard to teams and interactions between business units including entire enterprises.
Intense competition and structural changes characterize the car industry. Several trends (i.e. general changes over time) concerning sourcing strategies and supplier…
Intense competition and structural changes characterize the car industry. Several trends (i.e. general changes over time) concerning sourcing strategies and supplier relations can therefore be identified. The article aims to analyze how these trends correspond to the actual situation in the car industry. Based on a survey answered by both car manufacturers and first tier suppliers, this article provides facts and analyses regarding sourcing‐related trends over the past decade as well as some future predictions. The results show that both car manufacturers and suppliers continue to reduce product development time. They also increase supplier involvement in product development and the share of inbound JIT‐deliveries. However, while suppliers increase their outsourcing and globalization of production and product development activities, car manufacturers do not. Only some of the identified sourcing‐related trends are actually supported by the presented results. Hence, this article modulates the picture of the current development within the car industry.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze coordination mechanisms in buyer-supplier collaborations in new product development (NPD) and the influence of conflicts of…
The purpose of this paper is to analyze coordination mechanisms in buyer-supplier collaborations in new product development (NPD) and the influence of conflicts of interest. Inter- and intra-organizational coordination mechanisms are investigated.
The findings reported are based on a multiple case study consisting of four cases at two firms. Theoretical sampling consisted in selecting two projects with opposite levels of conflicts of interest between the collaborating firms. In total, 38 interviews were conducted with employees in buying and supplying firms.
The findings illustrate how inter-firm conflicts of interest affect the way firms coordinate both externally and internally. A high level of conflicts of interest related to information leakage emanated in more distant relationships with limited coordination between buyer and supplier. This restrictive relationship is also reflected in limited coordination between the buyer’s purchasing and research and development (R&D) units.
Generalizability is limited, as only two large industrial firms have been studied, but with four projects investigated in detail. The study shows that in situations, in which there is a conflict of interest, external coordination affects the firms’ internal coordination. Conflicts of interest in buyer-supplier NPD collaborations are managed by limiting information sharing, which is reflected in the way R&D and purchasing are coordinated.
Managers need to be aware of that a firm’s fear of sharing information with its supplier can also transfer to intra-firm unit coordination, as R&D may limit its information sharing with purchasing. On the other hand, in buyer-supplier collaborations with little conflict of interest, firms can form close relationships. Such a close relationship is also mirrored in how R&D and purchasing openly share information and coordinate.
This research contributes to an increased understanding of coordination in buyer-supplier innovation collaboration. Firms not only need to consider their external coordination but also how coordination with suppliers may affect the way they coordinate in NPD projects within the firm between purchasing and R&D.