Print Email Facebook Twitter The Integration of Sustainability in the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation within the context of SMEs Title The Integration of Sustainability in the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation within the context of SMEs Author Astua de Moraes, F. Contributor Wever, R. (mentor) Peck, D. (mentor) Hassi, L. (mentor) Faculty Industrial Design Engineering Department Design Engineering Programme Master of Science Strategic Product Design Date 2010-04-29 Abstract By covering the literature related to innovation processes, new value creation and sustainable innovation, the literature review conducted for this thesis highlights that the integration of sustainability issues in the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation (FFE) is an ill-addressed area in scientific literature. To tackle the problem, the research builds on the framework proposed by Hassi et al (2009). This framework is articulated in the following way: At the origin of a sustainable innovation process, there are the strategic reasons that drive a business to innovate sustainably, i.e. Why sustainable innovation is pursued In the later stages, there are a number of design and business tools that enable the embodiment and the optimization of products and services, i.e. How to enable sustainable innovation Between these two steps, there is a crucial question addressed, namely what is the best translation of strategy into products and services, i.e. the goal-finding phase or What to do. Within each organization there are players responsible for articulating these choices, i.e. Who is enabling sustainable innovation. The ‘What’ phase is precisely when sustainability issues are integrated in the FFE of Innovation. As highlighted by the theoretical background, this is an under addressed area of innovation and sustainable innovation literature. Therefore, the focus of this thesis is to begin providing answers to the questions regarding what to do when pursuing sustainable innovation and more specifically how to optimize the integration of sustainability in early phases of innovation processes. The work is inserted within a wider research effort looking at how these issues are being perceived by a number of stakeholders in business, namely Multi-National Enterprises (MNEs), Design Agencies, Entrepreneurs, Consultancies and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). This thesis looks specifically at the context of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), an important area of focus. According to the EU, they represent 99 % of all enterprises in the EU, directly contributing to entrepreneurship and innovation. It is therefore crucial that sustainable innovation practices within SMEs are mapped and understood. Additionally, available research has focused mainly on sustainable innovation in large companies. Since this area is still under addressed, initial research has to objectively understand how these issues are currently being managed and understood by management and businesses within SMEs. More specifically, it looks to address the following research questions: 1. How (when and by whom) is sustainability integrated in the FFE of Innovation? 2. In what way and how does the company’s view and strategy on sustainability influence their innovation process? Due to the theory-building characteristic of the research combined with its exploratory nature, the chosen research strategy was to conduct a multiple case study among innovative SMEs. Selected companies were divided into two groups of three SMEs and paired across industries/sectors: Group A: SMEs that communicate their commitment to sustainability Group B: SMEs that do not communicate any commitment to sustainability To be eligible, SMEs needed to have a product portfolio containing more than 1 product and have introduced a product to the market within the last 24 months. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and the review of companies’ documents and press articles. The main case analysis findings indicate a number of interesting issues: The persona of the owner/general manager yields great influence on the outcome of FFE phases. The innovation process and the FFE are very informal and are consistent only within each SME. Time invested in FFE phases is very small. FFE seem activities seem only to start at idea selection rather than at idea generation When integrated in FFE phases, sustainability issues are tackled either under one specific product requirement or as more general guiding principle to the innovation process. The main implications of these findings are as follow: SMEs seem to need to have stronger FFE activities. However, for this to happen, the personas of owners/general managers need to be included and addressed. Therefore, prior to the development of any tool to integrate sustainability in FFE activities, the FFE needs to be strengthened with relevant and appropriate approaches within the context of SMEs. These activities are to be directed to these key players in these organizations if any progress in better integrating sustainability in their early phases of the innovation process is to be done. Within the context of SMEs, the ‘What’ and ‘Who’ aspects are closely linked and seemingly inseparable. The proposed framework by Hassi et al. (2009) would therefore need to be adapted when used in the present context. Subject SustainabilityInnovationFuzzy Front EndSMEs To reference this document use: http://resolver.tudelft.nl/uuid:17e53c19-5a6d-4a0f-9daa-2f7d37bbf276 Access restriction Campus only Part of collection Student theses Document type master thesis Rights (c) 2010 Astua de Moraes, F.