The purpose of this research was to explore the interdisciplinary product development process for wearable and sewn products. A case study approach was selected for this research because it supports a holistic investigation of interdisciplinary product development in organizations using multiple sources of evidence (Yin, 2014). Three case studies were conducted for the development of three cool products: a cool tent, flexible cool vest, and cool pad. Eleven companies worked together in various capacities to create the three cooling products. The design process of the cool tent, flexible cool vest, and cool pad all featured the development and integration of phase change material technology into the product. Data was collected from interviews, observation, a site visit, and design development documentation. Themes that surfaced surrounding how the product development process was conducted in interdisciplinary teams were organization and communication, flexibility and experimentation, and stakeholder support. Themes regarding how the interdisciplinary product development process can lead to the creation of new products were expertise, collaboration and trust, and flexibility and experimentation as part of the business’ culture. Analysis of data collected from the seven companies resulted in a comparison of the cool products’ interdisciplinary product development process. The evaluation of the interaction and collaboration between the companies demonstrated that elements of interdisciplinary collaboration occur at every stage of the design process and forms of communication had to be altered in order to work across disciplines. An assessment and comparison of the cool products’ interdisciplinary product development processes to LaBat and Sokolowski’s (1999) and Ulrich and Eppinger’s (2012) product development processes showed clear similarities and contrasts between the processes. Common features of the interdisciplinary product development process were presented and assessed. A comparison of strategic alliance theories provided a basis for the analysis of how the interdisciplinary process of design and material development led to the creation of new products.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2016. Major: Design, Housing and Apparel. Advisor: Elizabeth Bye. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 162 pages.
Innovation in Sewn Cooling Products: Three Case Studies Examining the Interdisciplinary Product Development Process.
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