Manufacturing Firms' Processes and Practices for Creating Radical Manufacturing Technology Innovations

Tutkimustuotos: VäitöskirjaCollection of Articles

Abstrakti

The study reported in this dissertation examined situations in which manufacturing firms introduce radically different and novel technologies into their core production processes. In shifting to a new and different production technology, a manufacturing firm radically innovates its core production process, which is referred to in this thesis as radical manufacturing technology innovation (RMTI). Manufacturing technologies are often complex, and manufacturing firms are unable to develop and manufacture the needed technologies and equipment themselves. Thus, to create RMTIs, they need to collaborate with equipment supplier firms. These innovation projects therefore involve concept development and implementation projects for both production process innovation by the manufacturing firm and linked equipment (product) innovation by the equipment supplier firm. Process and equipment (product) innovations are interlinked, and both need to be realised as part of the manufacturing firm’s RMTI project.

The newness of a technology to manufacturing firms and the distributed knowledge among different experts from manufacturing and equipment supplier firms create knowledge gaps and pose related difficulties to the management of RMTI projects. These projects typically suffer inefficiency, rework, delays and losses, and there is a need for deeper knowledge on processes and practices for their management.

This dissertation concentrates on three major gaps in the previous knowledge on the creation of RMTIs from the perspective of manufacturing firms. First, the overall RMTI creation process, covering both product and process innovations linked with RMTI, has not been sufficiently covered in empirical research. RMTIs have predominantly been investigated as technology adoption tasks from the perspective of manufacturing firms, and how they introduce the interlinked process and equipment (product) innovations remains unclear from previous research. Second, related to this, research on high-novelty RMTIs, which also involve newness to others besides the manufacturing firm, is scarce, and the creation processes for RMTIs with different levels of novelty remain unclear in the literature. Third, the emergence of RMTI ideas in manufacturing firms and managers’ practices for searching for the needed ideas in the innovation front end remain underinvestigated and unclear in the existing literature.

This article-based dissertation comprises four original articles, two of which have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and two in peer-reviewed conference proceedings. The empirical investigation was carried out in two parts. First, a qualitative exploratory study on the RMTI creation process was conducted using empirical data on a wide breadth of RMTI examples with different levels of novelty. The study mapped different types of RMTI creation processes and the tasks involved in them from the perspective of manufacturing firms. Second, a multiplecase study was conducted, covering three nested cases of RMTI projects in each of the three case firms. The study investigated managers’ information search practices for generating RMTI ideas at the front end of innovation.

This dissertation contributes knowledge on managing RMTIs from the perspective of manufacturing firms beyond new technology adoption and implementation. RMTIs are understood as involving wider tasks from the perspective of manufacturing firms, as radical innovation projects in such firms’ core production technologies. Three types of creation processes are revealed for RMTIs with different levels of novelty. The novelty levels for RMTIs are distinguished based on whether the technology is new only to the manufacturing firm or is also new to the equipment supplier firm or to the industry and the world. Technological newness for equipment supplier firms is understood as an important part of managing RMTI projects in addition to technological newness for manufacturing firms. Fourdimensional construct of technological newness for equipment suppliers as part of RMTI projects and the corresponding uncertainties introduced in manufacturing firms’ creation processes are revealed. The observed proactive search practices of top and middle managers in manufacturing firms for putting together the information required to arrive at breakthrough insights needed for creating RMTI ideas at the front end of the innovation are presented. This dissertation contributes to the practice of managing RMTIs by offering frameworks for processes and practices for their initiation and implementation covering the comprehensive tasks involved in RMTI creation from the perspective of manufacturing firms.
AlkuperäiskieliEnglanti
JulkaisupaikkaTampere
ISBN (elektroninen) 978-952-03-2954-9
TilaJulkaistu - 2023
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Artikkeliväitöskirja

Julkaisusarja

NimiTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
Vuosikerta822
ISSN (painettu)2489-9860
ISSN (elektroninen)2490-0028

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