INDUSTRY MOTIVATION

Below you find a description of why this project is of interest for industry.


BACKGROUND

A particularly critical intervention point in the transformation of society towards sustainability is the innovation and design of products. Overuse of resources and socio-ecological impacts of production, distribution, use and disposal are evidence that current methods of decision making for innovation and design are insufficient. In many cases, the majority of a product’s social and ecological impacts are already committed at the design phase. Thus, it is imperative that rigorous, practical and readily shared methods and tools are developed to bridge the gap between today’s innovation and design approaches and tomorrow’s global needs. Businesses taking a leading role in this development are likely to become increasingly more competitive.

Sustainability-related decisions

Methods and tools that support integration of socio-ecological sustainability into the strategic planning process should include guidance on how to prioritise and make decisions. Sustainability-related decisions can be critical factors in determining the future of a company and the market success of its products. It is therefore relevant to understand both what types of decisions are made during product development and manufacturing processes and how these are made. There are many elements to consider in this context and frequently choices have to be made between a range of competing alternatives.

The following questions are important to focus on:

  • Who makes the choice and how?
  • How can trade-offs be identified, avoided or solved satisfactorily?
  • How are decisions made at senior management level connected to the decisions made at the product development level?

It is important that there is a clear, informed and constructive relationship between the company’s top management with its strategic course on the one hand, and design teams with their innovation of new products and services on the other.

SOME DETAILED RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Is there a strategic decision making process and how are trade-off situations identified and avoided or solved?

  1. Who is responsible for the decisions (which position and function) at different product development stages and which support tools are used?
  2. How are sustainability aspects presently taken into consideration when large companies are making decisions?
  3. What are some potential improvements regarding how large companies take sustainability aspects into account when making decisions?
  4. How do, and how can, decisions about sustainability aspects at a management level connect to product development at a company?
  5. How can the experiences from large companies be transferred to SMEs?

 

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