Critical appraisal of product development expertise in Irish SMEs
McDermott, Barry (2009) Critical appraisal of product development expertise in Irish SMEs. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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The focus of this research was on the product development expertise of Irish SMEs. In particular, SMEs developing physical products (a physical product is defined as an electronic, medical device, plastic or general engineering product). A survey of Irish SMEs was conducted across industry sectors developing physical products with the objective of understanding how indigenous SMEs and therefore Ireland is progressing towards becoming a knowledge economy. SME characteristics (customers and markets, organisational structures, systems, processes and procedures, human and financial resources, culture and behaviour) were researched and used to understand the issues SMEs have with product development (PD research is mostly considered from the perspective of large companies). In relation to product development: strategy, innovation and learning, strategic techniques, organisational structure, product development process design, types of product development processes, tools and methodologies, technology, intellectual property, change management, marketing and branding and performance measurement were all examined. Survey items (variables) were identified from the literature review and used to create a survey designed based on ‘best practice’ PD and SME characteristics. This survey was conducted based on identified survey best practice in order to increase response rate and went through two pre-tests and a pilot before the final study. Descriptive analysis, reliability/consistency analysis and regression analysis were conducted on the constructs of product development. Specific relationships identified in the literature review were examined. The results of this analysis revealed that Irish SMEs are operating in a ‘Knowledge Based Development’ or learning environment. They carry out many of the techniques associated with various tools and methodologies but reported no use of these T&M which could aid their approach. There is a high use of technology, especially CAD and technology is mostly developed within the product development process. There was a high use of Cross Functional Teams and in general strategy and fuzzy front end/voice of the customer usage was carried out well. There were no issues with change management and in relation to intellectual property the use of an IP policy,
strategy and portfolios was low. Generally, Irish SMEs are ready to reach the next stage of company evolution by linking ‘organisational (innovation) processes’.
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