Developing a model of collaboration in NPD

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Chapter 3 Defining and Explaining Collaboration in NPD

This third chapter explains what is meant by ‘collaboration in NPD’. To achieve this, it deductively builds upon relevant literature to both define and visually model the meaning of the words ‘collaboration’, ‘communication’, ‘design’ and ‘NPD’. It then combines the derived definitions and visual models to create models of collaboration in NPD that are used to contextualise th

Introduction and method

When developing a theory, the key concepts on which it is built should be well understood. This is for two reasons. First, theories can emerge more readily when constructs pertaining to the area of concern are previously identified. Eisenhardt (1989) states “a priori specification of constructs can help to shape the initial design of theory building research”. Second, a theory should be based on clearly understood terms and concepts to ensure proper interpretation of the research (King 1973). For these two reasons, before beginning the theory development, it was important that the core concepts of ‘collaboration’ and ‘NPD’ were clearly represented. However, it was difficult to find definitive definitions and models in literature.
While these terms upon superficial examination may appear simple, there is much variance in literature as to their meanings, as well as a lack of models that explain the underlying mechanics of collaboration in NPD. This is compounded by the fact that this thesis is in an area that can be called multidisciplinary, taking into account several research perspectives including management, engineering and design, each of which have various meanings and connotations applied to these key terms. Since even simple terms can have large differences in meaning between disciplines, definitions become essential when considering a multidisciplinary area of concern.
One critical issue identified is that the terms ‘collaboration’ and ‘communication’ are often used as synonyms in the literature. In a similar fashion the terms ‘design’ and ‘NPD’ are also used synonymously. Since these terms are so frequently interchanged, this chapter investigates ‘design’ and ‘communication’ in addition to ‘collaboration’ and ‘NPD’ to further develop and define the meaning of collaboration in NPD. Thus developing models and definitions of the four terms ‘collaboration’, ‘communication’, ‘NPD’ and ‘design’ and the phrase ‘collaboration in NPD’ as a priori knowledge is the starting point of this research as well as the aim of the chapter.
The method to achieve this aim is to perform a literature review. This serves two purposes. The first is to show the variance in definitions and models to prove that this problem is a valid one. The second purpose is to use existing, accepted definitions and principles as a foundation on which to build a deductive argument through analysing, deconstructing and then recombining the literature, to form an explicit understanding of the core concepts to give context to this research. This ‘explicit understanding’ takes the form of a definition, a model of the literal meaning of each definition, as well as a discussion of terms used within each definition. The discussions on the meaning of the terms that make up each definition are informed through the literature, observations of NPD and discussions with other researchers. The definitions and their visual models are inherently validated through being deductively constructed on pre-accepted literature.
While the definitions, their models and discussions are useful, they do not adequately describe the underlying mechanics of collaboration in NPD. To address this it was decided to develop further models representing ‘collaboration in NPD’ from different perspectives. Each model was inspired by other models from literature in related fields. These models present an element of new knowledge through their synthesis, context and application.
To summarise and elaborate on the research method for this chapter: First, multiple definitions for each term were found and reviewed from the literature until a suitable one was identified. If no definition fitted, a new definition was constructed, building deductively on other definitions. After defining the terms, they were visually modelled. This has two advantages. First, visualisations remove much of the ambiguity common in plain text definitions, and second, visualisations offer a fresh perspective that can lead to insights that may have been missed using solely text-based definitions. Once the key terms were well understood, they were combined together to create a working definition of the phrase ‘collaboration in NPD’. While useful, the textual definition was unable to represent several concepts the researcher considered pertinent to understanding important nuances of collaboration in NPD. To overcome this, the definition was further developed into a series of models that more accurately represent the required concepts. These models are in fulfilment of the first objective of this research given in Chapter 1:

  • To develop explicit definitions and models to explain the meaning and mechanics behind collaboration in NPD within the context of this research.

This in turn aids in addressing one part of the core problem ‘that there is a lack of understanding of the process of collaboration in NPD’.

Discussion of terminology

As discussed in the method section above, this section uses literature to define the key terms collaboration, communication, design and NPD and also discusses their context within the research.

Defining collaboration

Tomasello (2009) states “To explain collaboration fully requires evolutionary biologists, experimental economists, game theorists, sociologists, cultural and biological anthropologists, cognitive social and evolutionary psychologists and many others”. This thesis does not attempt to explain collaboration fully, if such an undertaking is even possible. It only aims to develop an understanding of the term that is useful to decision-makers in the context of NPD.
The verb collaborate and its noun collaboration can find their origins in the late Latin word collaborare, made from the prefix col– meaning ‘with’, ‘together’ or ‘joint’ and laborare meaning ‘to work’, making the literal meaning ‘to work together’ (Soanes 2010; Harper 2013).
Most definitions found in dictionaries support this literal meaning, for example:

  • Oxford dictionary definition: “the action of working with someone to produce something” – (Soanes 2010)

Each of these definitions has three core themes which are:

  • Some work is undertaken: ‘working’, ‘work’.
  • The work is performed by multiple parties: ‘with someone’, ‘together’, ‘with another’
    • The work is applied to something: ‘produce something’, ‘enterprise or project’, ‘joint project’
      It is interesting to note that there is a second meaning of collaboration

      This is obviously not relevant to this thesis; however, this meaning has negatively biased the word in several cultures (Huxham 1996; Economist Intelligence Unit 2008)
      The above definitions are relatively simple and offer a core understanding of the term ‘collaboration’. Delving deeper into academic definitions generally offers the same core themes found above, but adds context specific constraints to the term.

Chapter 1 Introduction to Collaboration in NPD
1.1 Background
1.2 The importance of collaboration in NPD
1.5 Developing the research direction
Chapter 2 Research Methodology
2.1 Theoretical perspectives
2.2 Information requirements
2.3 Choice of methodology
2.5 Limitations of research
2.6 Chapter conclusion
Chapter 3 Defining and Explaining Collaboration in NPD
3.1 Introduction and method
3.2 Discussion of terminology
3.3 Developing a model of collaboration in NPD
3.4 Conclusions
Chapter 4 Phase 1 of Theory Development
4.1 Research Phase 1 introduction
4.2 Phase 1: Method
4.3 Phase 1: Introduction to the initial organisation
4.4 Phase 1: CM Stage 1, first year of project
4.5 Phase 1: CM Stage 2, second year of project
4.6 Phase 1: CM Stage 3, design of a system of mass customisation
4.7 Phase 1 conclusions
Chapter 5 Phase 2 of Theory Development
5.1 Research Phase 2 introduction
5.2 Phase 2: Method
5.3 Phase 2: Stage 1
5.4 Phase 2: Stage 2
5.5 Phase 2: Stage 3
5.6 Phase 2 conclusions
Chapter 6 Phase 3 of Theory Development
6.1 Research Phase 3 introduction
6.2 Phase 3: Method
6.3 Phase 3: Stage 1, NS
6.4 Phase 3: Stage 2, TL
6.5 Phase 3 conclusions
Chapter 7 Phase 4, Enfolding Literature 
7.1 Research Phase 4 introduction
7.2 Enfolding literature: Method
7.3 Phase 4: Stage 1, examination of other frameworks
7.4 Effect of the literature on theory
7.5 Phase 4 conclusions
Chapter 8 Discussion of the Theory
8.1 Chapter introduction
8.2 Method
8.3 Discussion of decision categories
8.4 Medium choice
8.5 Select collaborators
8.6 Management support
8.7 Communication frequency
8.8 Roles and responsibilities
8.9 Proximity
8.10 Task definition
8.11 Formal communication channels
8.12 Political Barriers
8.13 Relationships
8.14 Communication training
8.15 Summary diagram of decision categories
8.16 Conclusions
Chapter 9 Conclusions and Recommendations
9.1 Chapter introductionAchievement of research objectives and contributions to knowledge
9.3 Research discussion and implications for practice
9.4 Evaluation of the theory
9.5 Limitations of research
9.6 Recommendations for future research
9.7 Conclusion

Collaboration Management in New Product Development

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