The Beauty or the Beast? Unlocking Recombinant Determinants of Performance for Artistic and Functional Product Designs
46 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 25, 2020
Product innovation entails both technological and design innovation, yet our knowledge of determinants of innovation outcomes is limited to technological innovations. This is a significant limitation because design innovation represents an increasingly large share of total innovation activity by organizations and innovators. In this paper, we focus on two dimensions of design recombination: The number of parent designs, i.e., the number of designs that used in the creation of the focal design, and the transfer distance, i.e., the average categorical distance of parent designs to the focal design. We argue that using multiple parent designs is beneficial for functional designs and increases the likelihood that functional design is a “hit”. This outcome happens because using multiple parent designs enables designers to focus on improving a specific component or to focus on integrated functionality while using the best available components for the rest. For the artistic designs, however, transfer distance increases the likelihood that the design is a “hit”. When a designer uses design(s) from the same or similar categories, it may lead to a “design fixation” that reduces the novelty in the focal design, where novelty is a critical determinant of the success of artistic designs. Our findings, based on an online 3D printing community called Thingiverse, support our arguments. Our study has important implications for research on design innovation, recombinant innovation, and managing innovation communities.
Keywords: Design Innovation, Recombination, Product Design, 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing
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