research methods


INTRODUCTION

We will make literature reviews and surveys in companies. Mainly, we will focus on empirical studies at a number of companies that are considered leaders in the field of integrating environmental and sustainability aspects in their activities, both large organisations and SME’s. We will make personal observations by interviewing and following in action (‘shadowing’) experienced decision makers at both management and product development level to understand how the overall product strategies are chosen or prioritised and how these are communicated and/or interpreted.

PRIMARY FOCUS

The primary focus is to study how the overall strategies pervade the whole product development process. We will study a number of methods, tools and practices that have already been developed to assist sustainability-related decision making. This may include:

  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • System Dynamics Modelling
  • Multi-criteria Decision Support
  • Risk Assessment
  • Management Systems etc.

We also want to build on and further develop our previous research tools, especially focusing on how to provide support when companies are choosing between many sustainability options and making trade-offs. This includes the prioritisation step (the D-step) of our strategic planning process (the ABCD analysis) (Broman et al. 2000)), the prioritisation matrix in the Method for Sustainable Product Development (MSPD) (Byggeth et al. 2005)) and the aid for decision making in Templates for Sustainable Product Development (TSPD) (MacDonald et al. 2005). We will do this both theoretically and through continuous testing (action research) in companies.

 

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