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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technovation, Volume 28, Issue 7, July 2008, Pages 464–471
The purpose of this research is to investigate how differences in aesthetic design emphasis among new technology-based firms (NTBFs) can be explained. Four hypotheses are developed based on a synthesis of existing research in the fields of design, strategy and entrepreneurship. The hypotheses are tested based on a survey of 103 NTBFs. The results of the research indicate that aesthetic design emphasis is significantly related with the importance of aesthetic design in a firm's chosen sector, which can be classified as a positioning factor. Aesthetic design emphasis is also significantly related with founder characteristics, which are resources factors, namely founders’ technical education and founders’ experience of sales and marketing, respectively. The results of the research lend some support to the anecdotal notion that engineers do not appreciate the value of aesthetic design and suggest that the source of this lack of appreciation is their education.
There is increasing appreciation that differentiation based on technological factors alone is not sufficient to insure success in today's competitive markets. Instead, the use of aesthetic design as an element of innovation has been proposed as an important means for achieving differentiation, leading to competitive advantage and improved performance (Hertenstein et al., 2005; Gemser and Leenders, 2001; Norman, 2004). The opinion that aesthetic design is too expensive to justify is common (Hertenstein et al., 2005). This view can be expected to be more pervasive in new firms than in more established firms since new firms are generally more resource constrained than established firms (Murray and Lott, 1995; Garnsey, 1995). At the same time, the ability to use aesthetic design as an element of innovation is particularly important for start-up firms because their strategies are likely to be based on differentiation (Carter et al., 1994; Black and Baker, 1987). New technology-based firms (NTBFs) constitute a class of firms that should be especially sensitive to the use of aesthetic design to achieve competitive advantage. NTBFs base their existence and success on technological innovation and aesthetic design can create a bridge between technical functionality and the value of products and services (Walsh, 1996; Hertenstein et al., 2005) and improve performance (Gemser and Leenders, 2001). To insure good design Norman (2004) argues that it is not sufficient to focus on functional design, which can be expected to be a prevalent focus in technology-based firms, but that aesthetic aspects of design are equally important. Roy and Riedel (1997) similarly found that commercially successful technological innovation projects involved a multidimensional approach to design. Despite the importance of aesthetic design for the competitive advantage of NTBFs, little is known about these firms’ emphasis on aesthetic design. Moreover, research is still scarce on the antecedents and outcomes of different design management practices (Chiva and Alegre, 2007). The purpose of this study is to investigate how much weight NTBFs put on aesthetic design as an element of innovation and how differences in aesthetic design emphasis can be explained. This should contribute to an understanding of how early stage conditions influence design management practices and subsequent performance in technology-based firms. Before discussing the research methodology, the following chapter provides an overview of the theoretical background for the research followed by the formulation of hypotheses regarding factors explaining variation in aesthetic design emphasis. The paper continues with a discussion of the empirical data and the variables and measures used. The results are presented, and the paper closes with a discussion of these results, the conclusions reached and their implications.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The goal of this research was to explore how much weight NTBFs put on aesthetic design and how differences in aesthetic design emphasis in NTBFs can be explained. The research is motivated by the importance of aesthetic design for the competitiveness of NTBFs and that too little is known about the use of aesthetic design in NTBFs. The findings suggest that NTBFs emphasize functional design over aesthetic design and that the competitive environment in which NTBFs operate as well as their founders’ background are related with aesthetic design emphasis. More specifically, the conclusions are that founders’ technology education is negatively related with emphasis on aesthetic design, founders’ sales and marketing experience is positively related with aesthetic design emphasis, and the overall importance of aesthetic design in the firm's sector is positively related with aesthetic design emphasis. The results lend support to the anecdotal notion, or stereotype even, that engineers and other “technical types” do not appreciate the value of aesthetic design. Most of the founders in the firms studied have a background in engineering and the natural sciences but the research results indicate that sales and marketing experience is likely to improve their appreciation for aesthetic design. This suggests that the source of the lack of appreciation of aesthetic design has its roots in the education system. Considering the importance of aesthetic design for overall functionality and experience of products and services (Norman, 2004) this is a concern for policy makers. The results also provide further insights into how the composition of founding teams in NTBFs influences design management practices. Previous studies (e.g. Roberts, 1991 and Meyer, 1986) have argued for the importance of complementing technical capabilities in NTBFs with commercial capabilities for higher performance. Assuming a link between aesthetic design and performance (cf. Hertenstein et al., 2005; Gemser and Leenders, 2001) this implies that the link between founding team diversity and performance could be partly mediated by effective aesthetic design practices. Design practices are likely to influence design management skills (Chiva and Alegre, 2007) but further research is needed on how aesthetic design activities are organized in NTBFs and who the aesthetic design actors are. Previous research suggests that aesthetic design actors may be persons without formal responsibility for design (Gorb and Dumas, 1987). The propensity for aesthetic design activities performed as an adjunct to actors’ recognized primary responsibility calls for a research methodology specifically taking into account problems of nomenclature and elusiveness. Outsourcing of aesthetic design also warrants examination. A more thorough understanding to the organization of aesthetic design and the actors involved may be useful in exploring the link between aesthetic design and performance in NTBFs. The resource constraints that characterize NTBFs impose a limit on the variety of means these firms can choose to pursue to achieve success and force them to forego others. Further research of these strategic choices is warranted particularly to examine what means are pursued instead of aesthetic design and what the outcomes of these choices are. Finally, the results of the study provide unique information on the level and variation in aesthetic design emphasis in a population of NTBFs. In order to validate the findings comparable studies need to be made on other populations.