Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2343944
 
 

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Managing the Repertoire: Stories, Metaphors, Prototypes, and Concept Coherence in Product Innovation


Victor P. Seidel


Babson College; Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; University of Oxford

Siobhan Clare O'Mahony


Boston University School of Management

January 17, 2014

Organization Science, 2014
Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2013-10

Abstract:     
A recognized challenge in innovation scholarship is how to coordinate the efforts of many minds contributing to the design of a single artifact. Much research shows that product concept representations can help coordinate design tasks, but we know little about the practices that make representations more or less effective. We used an inductive approach to examine how six teams in three industries used concept representations when creating novel products. All six teams crafted three types of representations: stories, metaphors, and prototypes. However, merely using representations did not ensure a shared repertoire and concept coherence — a common understanding of desired product attributes. Teams that failed to consistently engage in three practices — 1) collective scrutiny of representations; 2) linking representations to design constraints; and 3) active editing of representations — produced concept disunity, with disparate understandings of desired product attributes. Teams that maintained concept coherence were better able to coordinate design tasks than teams that experienced concept disunity. Our research explains how the ultimate effect of concept representations on the coordination of innovation is contingent upon the practices used to manage a repertoire of representations in use.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

Keywords: Product innovation, representations, boundary objects, coordination

JEL Classification: O32

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Date posted: October 24, 2013 ; Last revised: April 17, 2014

Suggested Citation

Seidel, Victor P. and O'Mahony, Siobhan Clare, Managing the Repertoire: Stories, Metaphors, Prototypes, and Concept Coherence in Product Innovation (January 17, 2014). Organization Science, 2014; Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2013-10. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2343944

Contact Information

Victor P. Seidel (Contact Author)
Babson College ( email )
Wellesley, MA 02457-0310
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.babson.edu/academics/faculty/profiles/pages/seidel-victor.aspx
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences ( email )
Cambridge, MA
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.seas.harvard.edu/directory/vseidel
University of Oxford ( email )
Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain
HOME PAGE: http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/community/people/victor-seidel
Siobhan Clare O'Mahony
Boston University School of Management ( email )
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States
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