Bang & Olufsen: The Impact Of The External Network On New Product Development

Marie Möckel & Martin Sung Borg

Student thesis: Master thesis


In today’s world companies rely heavily on external partners like suppliers,customers, research partners or external designers to develop innovative products, as they cannot possess all resources internally. Existing research in innovation management highlights the importance of the external network during the product development, especially in design-driven innovation (Verganti, 2009). However, network characteristics such as the relationship strength between different actors, for example the external designers and a company, and their influence on the product development and the success of a product are to a great extent unexplored.One of the few companies that does design-driven innovation but does not employ in-house designers is Bang & Olufsen. B&O outsources the entiredesign process to external designers and, therefore, depends on their ability to create innovative product ideas. By looking comparatively at the design process of successful and less successful products evidence showed that network characteristics like the relationship strength between the external designers and B&O have had an influence on the success of a product.It was found that external designers who had a weak relationship were able to create more successful products than designers who had strong relationship to the company. A look at the designers work process showed that their design research, the design discourse, was influenced by indirect knowledge sources, such as previous work experience and not by other network partners such as experts or users.Established literature (Verganti, 2009) points out that design-driven companies make use of a wide and diverse external network during the design discourse. However, this was not observed in the case of B&O and another Scandinavian design company, Stelton (Lauritzen, 2012). This indicates the existence of a Scandinavian design-driven innovation approach, however, further research will be needed to confirm this.

EducationsCand.merc.smc Strategic Market Creation, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages115