Drawing Things Together in the Fuzzy Front end with Black-boxes

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An explanatory study of four innovation processes demonstrates that it can be
useful to understand the front as a process where social and technical elements are interweaved and knitted together. This analysis adds to the understanding of the processes that makes it possible to move innovation processes through the dynamic and ambiguous fuzzy front end to concept development and product development. The study is based on ethnographic research and intensive use of historical archives, providing the data for the development of four cases that reveals the processes, networks and outcomes in these. Data are analyzed using relevant software and structured methods and analytical procedures involving multiple researchers and both internal and external validation of observations.
The study indicates that this interlocking is not a linear progressing managed
process, nor is driven by a single individual or by a system, nor the outcome of the environments or of the strategic decisions planned by managers or gatekeepers, but that it is an emerging network where human and non-human actors are pulled together into a continually stronger network that is closed, i.e. black-boxed. Using the concept of black-boxing in studies of the fuzzy front end of product development is new. The analysis show that the concept of black-boxing is useful to analyze these processes, and a useful concept for understanding the challenges managers face. The analysis presents the processes that leads to successful stable Blackboxing for four products that can move the FFE into concept development and successful detailed development by using method of the socio- and techno-gram to depict the processes. The analysis contributes to prior research on the front end processes in several
ways. It focuses on the micro-processes and how the human and non- human actors are draw into the network to make the alliances between the social and the technical, and illustrating the blurred boundaries between what is technical and what is social in the front end. Second, the analysis shows the blurred boundaries between what is in and what is outside the front end process and the company, what can be controlled directly what can't. Third, the processes are not a forward movement following guidelines, plans or proposals, but rather a movement back-and-forth and left-and-right, in whatever direction that can increase the creation of a strong network.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventThe 26th Innovation and Product Development Management Conference. IPDMC 2019 - School of Business, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jun 201911 Jun 2019
Conference number: 26


ConferenceThe 26th Innovation and Product Development Management Conference. IPDMC 2019
LocationSchool of Business, University of Leicester
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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