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The front end as a process: the case of a multinational Brazilian firm
Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1390-1820
Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brasil.
Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brasil.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0144-0406
Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brasil.
2016 (English)In: Gestão e Produção, ISSN 0104-530X, Vol. 23, no 3, p. 459-472Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the context of the front-end process in a multinational Brazilian firm that manufactures electric motors. By adopting an in-depth case study method, this article evaluates the front end as a strategic and tactical process within the Brazilian firm studied. The competitive arena, consisting mainly of Asian competitors, encouraged the Brazilian firm to review the stages of the front-end process and include new activities, such as (i) involving abstractive practices in the first stages; (ii) developing cross-functional capabilities in the research and development department; (iii) adopting tear-down activities of competitors’ products concerning all business segments; and (iv) defining a priori the boundary conditions of financial constraints.

Abstract [pt]

Este artigo analisa as configurações do processo de captação de novas oportunidades para o desenvolvimento de produtos numa indústria multinacional de origem brasileira fabricante de Motores Elétricos Industriais, ganhadora do prêmio FINEP de inovação. Numa abordagem qualitativa, foi estudada a evolução do processo em níveis estratégicos e táticos, desde sua fundação em 1970, buscando investigar oportunidades de aprimoramento à luz dos modelos teóricos. Os resultados demonstram a necessidade de um novo paradigma organizacional que possibilite novas orientações à captação de oportunidades. A saúde financeira e a capacidade técnica da empresa lhe asseguraram posição de destaque no cenário internacional. No entanto, as mudanças no contexto oriundas em especial no mercado chinês apontam para a necessidade de uma reformulação do processo de captação de novas oportunidades. Considerando o modelo teórico adotado, constataram-se as seguintes oportunidades de melhoria: (i) aprimoramento da fase inicial para uma etapa mais criativa, abstrata, multidisciplinar e com perspectiva de longo prazo; (ii) desenvolvimento de habilidades multifuncionais pelos departamentos de pesquisa e desenvolvimento; (iii) análise do potencial tecnológico dos concorrentes com base em práticas de tear-down para todos os segmentos de negócio; e (iv) indicação a priori de macrodiretivas pelo grupo diretor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sao Paulo: Associacao Brasileira de Engenharia de Producao (A B E P R O) , 2016. Vol. 23, no 3, p. 459-472
Keywords [en]
Front end, Capturing of new opportunities, New product development, Innovation management
Keywords [pt]
Front-end, Captação de novas oportunidades, Desenvolvimento de novos produtos, Gestão da inovação
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-38165DOI: 10.1590/0104-530x1134-15Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84990818385OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-38165DiVA, id: diva2:1256403
Available from: 2018-10-16 Created: 2018-10-16 Last updated: 2018-11-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Managing the Collaborative Front End of Innovation in Manufacturing Firms: Requirements, Capabilities, and Conditions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing the Collaborative Front End of Innovation in Manufacturing Firms: Requirements, Capabilities, and Conditions
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The front end is a phase of the innovation process that starts with a new product idea and completes when firms have developed a new product definition. This phase is critical for many manufacturing firms. Front-end outcomes is indeed critical to overall product success, market penetration, time to-market, and financial performance. During this phase, new products are born as ideas, and subsequently move through screening, project definition, and business analysis. However, this phase remains poorly understood in the era of more open innovation (e.g., interfirm collaboration). Although the literature on front end of innovation is well developed, prior studies have largely focused on bilateral agreements and have overlooked conditions for collaboration with science-based partners (universities and research institutes). This is especially true for manufacturing firms, for which a continuous stream of new product ideas is a key source of competitiveness. To make things worse, the front end of innovation conducted with external actors involved is often characterized by incongruent practices by partners, different magnitudes of fuzziness, and considerable risks in revealing new ideas. Developing new product definitions with different partners is thus a risky endeavor if mishandled that may seriously compromise competitive advantages of firms. Therefore, greater knowledge is required to facilitate the collaborative front end with different types of partners. Against this background, the purpose of this dissertation is to understand how to manage the collaborative front end in manufacturing firms, with a particular focus on requirements, capabilities, and conditions.

To fulfill this research purpose, data on manufacturing firms were collected through four case studies and one survey. In total, this dissertation is based on empirical data from 81 interviews with R&D members across 10 medium-sized and large manufacturing firms, as well as a survey of 146 small and medium-sized manufacturing firms. Respondents were based in Brazil or Sweden. The key theories and literature covered include coordination modes, control mechanisms, organizational routines, the resource-based view, and appropriability mechanisms.

This dissertation makes several contributions. First, it extends the front-end literature by presenting the concepts of systematic idea generation and fuzziness assessment as a prerequisite for improving front-end performance. Second, this dissertation lists collaboration conditions that help firms cooperate better with science-based partners. By collaborating with science-based partners, firms  can access codified and tacit scientific knowledge, enabling them to rapidly build on the latest research insights. The findings suggest particular practices that can be applied to reduce cultural differences and diminish goal divergence among project members. Third, this dissertation describes a set of detailed practices to streamline the involvement of different types of partners using diverse appropriability mechanisms. Ultimately, a theoretical framework is developed to describe how to manage the collaborative front end of innovation. The theoretical framework explains how manufacturing firms can use their organizational capabilities to efficiently and safely develop new product ideas. In particular, the framework identifies the necessary capabilities to explore mechanisms, practices, and routines in terms of divergent thinking, external expertise, and multiple opinions. Altogether, these contributions will assist firms to better manage collaborative front end.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2018. p. 250
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1544
Keywords
front end of innovation, collaboration
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-38383 (URN)978-91-7790-152-5 (ISBN)978-91-7790-153-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-06-19, A109, Universitetsområdet, Luleå, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-02-08 Created: 2018-11-20 Last updated: 2019-02-08Bibliographically approved

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