On Styles in Product Design: An Analysis of US Design Patents

48 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2014 Last revised: 14 Jun 2016

Tian Chan

Emory University - Goizueta Business School

Jurgen Mihm

INSEAD

Manuel Sosa

INSEAD

Date Written: June 13, 2016

Abstract

Products combine function and form. This paper focuses on product form. The authors combine state-of-the-art clustering techniques with experimental validation to identify styles (groupings of new product designs of similar form) among the more than 350,000 US design patents granted from 1977 through 2010.

Thus the authors compile, for the first time, a rich data set of styles that can serve as an empirical platform for a rigorous study of the role played by product form in new product development. Building on this platform, the authors analyze the determinants of “style turbulence”: the year-to-year unpredictability of changes in a style’s prevalence.

The authors find that (i) style turbulence follows a U-shaped relationship with respect to function turbulence (the turbulence of product functions associated with a given style) and (ii) style turbulence increases over time. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for managing design in new product development.

Keywords: Product Form, Cluster Analysis, Experiments, Design Patents, Industry Turbulence

Suggested Citation

Chan, Tian and Mihm, Jurgen and Sosa, Manuel, On Styles in Product Design: An Analysis of US Design Patents (June 13, 2016). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2016/40/TOM. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2428744 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2428744

Tian Chan

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States

Jurgen Mihm

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

Manuel Sosa (Contact Author)

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

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