Decision-making of Adopting Technology Innovation in Uncertain Environments

Anna Ekelund & Solvor Øksnes

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Due to the nature of innovation, digitization and technology has entered the manufacturing industry, introducing Industry 4.0. The great amount and high variety of information about what is the next big disruption generates speculation in the market, some argue it to be The Factory or the Future. The big players in the automotive and aerospace industries have already placed big bets on 3D printing as a means of manufacturing future components in their aircrafts and vehicles, taking the lead on driving innovation forward. However, there is an uncertainty in the market concerning the technology of 3D printing’s potential. It has also proved to bring major advantages for manufacturing in the hearing aid industry, however it is deemed to never be able to match the economic benefits of mass production. How do companies cope with the new technological trends coming along with the ever- evolving digitalization in the world?
We selected 3D printing technology as our case for this study, as it has been said to still have many shortcomings before full acceptance in the market, meanwhile, research on adoption comes short. As such it is an interesting area of investigation.
The uncertainty, in combination with barriers, is dominating in the decision of some companies to reject 3D printing technology. These parameters become mitigated as more knowledge and information about 3D printing is acquired. A dynamic market with unclear technology standards, a lack of quality compliance system, slow speed and high costs cause many companies to be reluctant to invest today. Also, lack of talent and expertise, in combination with fixed attitudes in traditional companies constitutes barriers that cause a lack of innovation with 3D printing.
From findings from both 9 qualitative interviews and 29 respondents to a survey, we were able to map out the different companies along a self-made decision tree for 3D printing evaluation and investment. The decision process takes into consideration elements of attitude, actions, and use in regards to 3D printing. We further identify that 80% of the respondents experienced uncertainty related to the adoption.
By applying theory on strategy under uncertainty, advanced manufacturing technology adoption, acceptance process of technology, and diffusion of innovations, we suggest that decision making is a dynamic process, affected by decision makers’ perceptions of 3D printing characteristics, expected performance, effort required, facilitating conditions and external social conditions to affect adoption of 3D printing.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages162
SupervisorsBent Petersen