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Paper info: Strategic Acting as Stagesetting: The Case of Industrial Design


Strategic Acting as Stagesetting: The Case of Industrial Design


Birgit H. Jevnaker

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 17th IMP-conference in Oslo, Norway in 2001.


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Recent research in strategy, organization theory and industrial marketing is emphasizing thenew complexities of gaining a dynamic resource-advantage that can reinvent and differentiatethe industrial firm's offerings. This paper examines the dynamic capabilities contributedthrough industrial design and product innovation. An expanded understanding is needed tocapture the specifics of industrial design expertise and its role in developing products as wellas business organizations. Industrial design is an intensive transforming and mediating?technology? and the expertise is highly tacit, mobile, and relates to emergent realities of notyet-embodied knowledge. It tends to be embedded in dyads as well as multiple networks thatconstruct new path-dependencies and can enact market, consumer and technological shifts inthe business environment. The paper therefore extends the exploration of firm-specificdynamic capabilities to a relational-expressive level by focusing on the collaboration with(partly) independent design partners. Based on in-depth case studies of five Scandinavianfirms and their allied industrial designers, a set of potential strategic gains is identified andthese relates to four design-strategic processes, which are discussed. Finally, a newframework is presented that may capture how these dynamics between design and innovationactually is constituted and staged through a creative ?relational constructing? within newdesign/business hybrids.