Enhancing the design capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises through knowledge transfer
Taylor & Francis
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This research was based on the analysis of 12 PDR-based Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP). PDR employs KTPs as an effective mechanism for collaborative design and development, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). PDR has extensive experience of implementing and supervising KTP programmes - 22 completed since 1995. The aim of this research was to identify barriers to, and the drivers for, successful design activities within SMEs. Analysis of 12 exemplar case-studies highlighted the following issues: (a) the dominant owner-manager is the primary barrier to structured design and development; (b) design-illiterate companies impose unrealistic expectation on product development projects; (c) SME needs a fully-shared company vision that harnesses the creativity of all staff, positive attitudes to change at all levels, and continual exploitation of knowledge/technology. The originality of this work is that the 12 in-depth case studies show how barriers to design occur within SMEs, how these barriers can be negated, and, crucially, how drivers for successful design can be promoted. The significance of this study is it provides a two-phase framework for effective design within SMEs. The first phase should acknowledge (and attempt to overcome) the potentially detrimental impact of owner-managers operating within a resource constrained environment. The second phase should implement a structured design and development process and promote a company-wide culture of innovation and change. This framework can be employed by design practitioners, managers, KTP supervisors, and knowledge transfer professionals. The issues and framework identified in this paper are being developed into a book based on PDR's KTP research output.
The Design Journal
Millward, H., Byrne, C. and Lewis, A. (2006) 'Enhancing the design capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises through knowledge transfer', The Design Journal, 9(3), pp.3-13
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