Complex Adaptive Socio-Technical Systems – The Role of Socio-Technical Networks in New Product Development
51 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 15, 2014
New product development (NPD) is challenging, as it involves mastering new technologies by coordinating appropriate resources efficiently and effectively. Established models of NPD focus on structuring, planning and ordering the innovation process but do not account for complexity and organizational responses and strategies in handling day-to-day resource allocation and decision-making.
Our work is theoretically based on ideas from complexity science and NPD procedures. We build on and extend the work on Complex Adaptive System (CAS) and combine it with Socio-Technical System in an innovative approach to analyze, understand and manage NPD complexity by means of network analysis and performance metrics.
This paper contributes to existing literature by introducing a framework of complex adaptive socio-technical systems (CASS). It is intended to (1) consider dependencies between product and individuals, (2) provide indicators to measure complexity, efficiency and effectiveness, (3) explain complex phenomena by identifying patterns, and (4) enable NPD governance.
We demonstrate the applicability of our framework and metrics using comparative longitudinal case studies using novel and unique data from 4 years of meeting minutes and document exchange in the design phase of the NPD process of a large German automobile OEM. Results reveal new measures for addressing operational, social and technical complexity, providing new insights into complex dynamic behavior. From a managerial point of view, contributions of CASS are twofold: First, new possibilities for NPD governance emerge from performance indicators. Second, the extraction of dynamic socio-technical networks supports project-to-project learning.
Keywords: Innovation; Complexity; Socio-technical Systems; Networks; Longitudinal
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