انتقال دانش در فرایندهای توسعه محصول : مطالعه موردی در شرکت های کوچک و متوسط (SME ها) در بخش فلز ـ مکانیک از سائو پائولو، برزیل
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|2721||2008||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technovation, Volume 28, Issues 1–2, January–February 2008, Pages 29–36
This paper reports a research that evaluated the product development methodologies used in Brazilian small and medium-sized metal-mechanic enterprises (SMEs), in a specific region of São Paulo. The tool used for collecting the data was a questionnaire, which was developed and applied through interviews conducted by the researchers in 32 companies. The main focus of this paper can be condensed in the synthesis-question “Is only the company responsible for the development?” which was analyzed thoroughly. The results obtained from this analysis were evaluated directly (through the respective percentages of answers) and statistically (through the search of an index which demonstrates if two questions are related). The results point to a degree of maturity in SMEs, which allows product development to be conducted in cooperation networks.
Innovations are vital for organizations (Cavusgil et al., 2003). But innovations have become progressively more complex, expensive and involved in uncertainties and risks, due to frequent changes in customers’ demands, higher market pressure, and quick and radical technological progress. As a result, SMEs face greater difficulties in aggregating innovations. Acquiring knowledge and skills through external collaboration has become, according to the authors, an effective and efficient way towards the success of innovations. Large enterprises have advantages such as renowned brands, earnings in scale of mass-production and a greater influence on contract development both with customers and suppliers. Comparatively to large companies, SMEs tend to present greater flexibility, for they are able to mobilize themselves to meet market demands in a shorter time than large companies (Baldwin, 2000). Innovation is an important tool for companies to adjust to competition and changes in the market (Bommer and Jalajas, 2002), and the importance of innovation is justified, according to Clark and Wheelwright (1993), by the action of conjoined and critical forces such as intense international competition, market sophistication and quick technological changes. In this way, the authors state that, although the competitive advantages can be related to certain factors such as company size and larger resources, there is a growing predominance of companies flexible enough to bring together knowledge and technological capabilities to develop new products. Product development process is defined by Otto and Wood (2001) as “the entire set of activities required to bring a new concept to a state of market readiness”. Ulrich and Eppinger (2004) mention that “product development is the set of activities beginning with the perception of a market opportunity and ending in the production, sale, and delivery of a product”. Clark and Wheelwright (1993) also interpret new product development as a process in which an organization transforms market opportunities and technical possibilities into the manufacturing of a commercial product. The adoption of a project methodology is essential, since it helps the designers to rely on a trustworthy model for their work accomplishment and, despite the developer's desires to design for customers (meeting demanded attributes such as appearance, design, durability, etc.), there must also be a concern to design for the manufacturer (simple manufacture, usage of few resources, etc.), for the sales team (easy transport and stocking, etc.), among others (Kaminski, 2000). Researchers around the world have dedicated themselves to this subject, producing works on SME characteristics regarding technological innovation and product development. In Italy, 47 SMEs were analyzed in an attempt to identify resemblances among them in the areas of knowledge management and innovation (Corso et al., 2003). The paper points out the recent emerging trends in selecting standards of information technology and approaches to knowledge management, obtained from internal and external sources, in new product development. In North America, 235 research and development professionals were interviewed to try to establish the sources of innovation in SMEs (Bommer and Jalajas, 2004). Managers from 157 small-sized firms operating in Turkey have answered a study that involves the interrelationships among a firm's market orientation, learning orientation and innovativeness (Keskin, 2006), and the results show that firm innovativeness positively affects firm performance. Managers’ stories of the partner selection process for new product co-development alliances also were analyzed by Emden et al. (2006) using a narrative analysis technique. The authors affirm that when firms collaborate for new product development, they do so with several different types of organization, such as suppliers, customers or universities and research centers. A study that took place in Greece with 150 manufacturing SMEs (Salavou et al., 2004) considered the importance given by companies to strategy-oriented characteristics, such as market orientation and continuous learning, to be indicators of organizational innovation, that is, the number of product innovations adopted. The paper concluded that SMEs with these characteristics, when faced with strong competition, tend to become more innovative. An empirical research applied to analyze critical success drivers for product development process in industrial SMEs (March-Chordà et al., 2002) used a sample of 65 SMEs located in the quite-developed region of Valencia, in Spain. This study has pointed the main obstacles for innovation, noting the excessively high costs of maintaining an innovative process and the uncertainties of acceptance of newly developed products by the market. Liefner et al. (2006), in a survey with companies in China, have concluded that, in the process of innovation, companies in Beijing—as well as in other development countries—make use of knowledge originating in universities and public research organizations, mainly to design new products. In certain peripheral regions of the European Union, the economy and living standards are below the European average. One of the main reasons is the low level of innovations in industrial SMEs, as concluded by a study presented by McAdam and McConvery (2004), which exploited the success or difficulty in incorporating innovations, involving 41 SMEs in Northern Ireland. The authors state that deficiencies in innovation induce these small and medium native companies to experience difficulties to grow and export, leaving them outside well-developed and successful production chains. In an important area of firm activities—supply chain management—from a survey with 184 US companies (67 SMEs), Kim et al. (2006) suggest that managers need to focus on appropriate type of innovation to enhance supply chain activities and organizational performance. Regional context is of high importance in SMEs because of its competitive advantages, justifies Bagchi-Sem (2001). This happens both regarding availability, costs and quality of production drivers, as well as regarding the presence and quality of suppliers. His project, developed in Canada, presents how much industrial SMEs, located in peripheral regions and focused on traditional production models, struggle to survive in a highly competitive global environment. The author also identifies, in these peripheral regions, distinctions between companies focused in product innovation. The research was conducted with a sample of 54 SMEs belonging to 12 cities in Canada's Niagara region (excluding Toronto and its metropolitan area). The author concludes that innovative SMEs in that area (the ones that presented new or improved products) had better conditions of sales and exportations. The average percentage of new or improved products for innovative SMEs in the sample is equal to 27.5% on total sales, and 45% on exportation. The area in which a SME is located is especially important in their innovative process, because the external relationships of SMEs are more restricted to the region than large enterprises, concluded Kaufmann and Tödtling (2002). Excluding partners from their own business sector, mainly customers, SMEs maintain few external relationships in their innovative process. The lack of interaction with knowledge brokers (universities, for instance), outside of their business sector strongly restricts the external influences that stimulate innovation. The investigated region in the research (Upper Austria) is one of the nine provinces (Bundesländer) of the Austrian country. The study involved a total of 204 companies in services and industrial sectors, and 140 were classified as SMEs regarding their employee number. The authors have also noticed other typical problems that constrict innovation activities in SMEs, such as limited financial capacity and small persistence in research activities. These different approaches to the subject demonstrate an enormous need to understand the real role of SMEs in the economy. This paper inserts itself in this current tendency, as it describes a recent study that took place in a specific region of Brazil's São Paulo State, and that attempts to characterize SMEs in the metal-mechanic sector regarding the product development processes. 1.1. A study of SMEs in the Brazilian metal-mechanic sector In the recent research “Product development and technological innovation in small and medium companies in the State of São Paulo” (Kaminski and Oliveira, 2004) financed by FAPESP and conducted in 32 enterprises, the planning and initial results of a study of project methodologies used by SMEs were presented. In that work, the researchers attempted to verify the degree of adequacy for new product development with higher quality and added value, providing companies with opportunities for constant renovation. The research used a questionnaire and a visit to the design office and manufacturing area of the studied enterprises. In all of the visits, the interviewed employee was the responsible for the product development area (in some cases, the owner itself). In most of the cases, the position was nominated Engineering Manager and/or Director. It must be brought out that the authors themselves were responsible for the interviews/visits, which allow for a degree of trustworthiness in the obtained data, as well as a real knowledge of each company's product development area “evolutive” status. The structured questionnaire allowed the acquisition of specific answers that would hardly be obtained otherwise. In order to make a posterior formatting easier, its 68 questions of open, closed or multiple choices were separated into nine groups, forming specific questionnaires. As a strategy to find the desired companies, the researchers used the “Database of the State of São Paulo Enterprises” (FIESP/CIESP, 2003) and SMEs within a 200 km radius from the city of São Paulo were listed. With this strategy, the trips for visits were very much facilitated, and the inclusion of some of the state's main industrial regions (Great São Paulo, and Sorocaba and outskirts) was also guaranteed. The number of 32 visited companies was defined accordingly to the financial resources made available in the project. In most of the cases, one company was visited per day. This group of 32 companies is representative as to what occurs in metal-mechanic SMEs in all of the south-southeast region of Brazil, as well as in the industrial poles (usually smaller and in less quantity) of the other regions in the country: north, center-west and northeast. Table 1 shows the initial establishment of data determination (in the sample of 32 enterprises) related to the characterization of enterprises. This research has evidenced some of the causes that restrain project and product development actions in a vicious circle. The first of them is that the product development area is hardly ever considered strategically important to the company. Results also point that more sophisticated uses of CAD tools, as for instance tools for parametric project, were not declared to be used in most companies. This behavior was also observed in questions regarding numeric computation, simulation and project management software. In other words, none of the researched companies make use of simulation tools, such as “Matlab”, and very few use programs based on the finite element method. Even the use of new manufacturing processes to seek new market niches, as seen in most researched companies, does not become an aid to the development process. This hinders the emergence of innovations and products are thus classified as evolutive (Kaminski and Oliveira, 2005). These companies employ very few PDM (product data management) and PLM (product lifecycle management) resources, which are restricted to the usage of CAD systems. The use of CAE systems (finite element, manufacturing process simulators) is very limited. Also, much to the interviewers’ surprise, theoretical concepts (such as international methodology standards) are not very much applied in SMEs. Even the use of concepts such as design spiral, FMEA and value analysis was practically not observed in the research (Kaminski et al., 2005). It is important to notice that the 32 analyzed companies are located in one of the most developed industrial areas of the Brazilian landscape. Thus, it can be said that, if certain “complex” technological resources such as the use of simulation through the finite elements method (CAE systems) and/or PDM/PLM systems is not found within the companies in this sample, it certainly would not be found expressively in any other regions in the country. This work has as its main goal to approach the knowledge transfer in the product development process. This will be achieved through the verification, within the results of the research developed, whether the participation of other entities external to the company (such as clients, suppliers, consultants, specialized companies, research institutes and universities) can be identified. This can be summarized in the question “Is only the company responsible for the development?”
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The present work consisted, in a first phase, of an intense field research made by the group. The visits to the researched companies allowed the extraction of useful data, which were compiled with the aid of a standard questionnaire. This questionnaire, carefully elaborated by the group, facilitated the interpretation of the data obtained in the visits. With the data in hand, it was possible to begin a statistical work, aiming at the extraction of conclusions from the individual answers obtained. It should also be brought out that the utilized research procedure, where the authors themselves visited and interviewed the responsible employee in the development area and were able to verify “in loco” the product development environment of the participating companies, allowed for the gathering of more consistent and trustworthy information. The group of 32 analyzed companies, although based in the outskirts of São Paulo city, is representative for what occurs in metal-mechanic SMEs in the south and southeast states of Brazil, as well as in the main industrial poles in north, center-west and northeast regions. As concluded in the previous work, it is important to emphasize that more sophisticated uses of CAD tools as, for instance, tools for parametric project, were not declared to be used in most companies. This behavior was also observed in questions regarding numeric computation, simulation and project management software. As the utilization of CAD and numeric computation software tend to aid the creation, modification and utilization of the product, this presents itself as an inhibitor of technological innovation. Even the use of new manufacturing processes to seek new market niches, as seen in most researched companies, does not become an aid to the development process. These companies employ very few PDM/PLM resources, which are usually restricted to the usage of CAD systems. This hinders the emergence of innovations. In relation with the central question “Is only the company responsible for the development?” it can be noticed that conjoined work with suppliers (75%) is usual. The partnership with clients (72%) is based on product customization, or in the identification and evaluation of trends, for mass-production products. As for the suppliers, the relationship is always in search of improvements in the production process, new materials, software incorporation, etc. The importance of an involvement of clients and suppliers in long-term solid relationships can be perceived, where the interaction can generate innovative project solutions and the strengthening of the productive chain where the SME is inserted. It was also stated that the better-structured SMEs, with a formal product development department, find it easier to integrate their development process with other partners, such as universities, research institutes, consulting firms and testing companies. The contracting of consulting firms or specialized professionals is focused on certain phases of the product development process, and the support of universities, research institutes or professional education centers is based on longer cooperation programs. It was observed that these SMEs possess a sufficient degree of maturity to allow product development to occur in cooperation networks with clients, suppliers and other strategic partners, thus enhancing opportunities for these companies. The metal-mechanic sector is one of the most important in the industry, originating employment and revenues throughout the country. Therefore, the reading of this article presents the synthesis of what can be seen nowadays in SMEs of this industrial sector. It is hoped that the data produced will be used for the improvement of SMEs, increasing their competitiveness, generating jobs and modernizing the country.