Bridging Boundaries: Challenges to integrated collaboration in design-driven innovation

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


This paper presents a pilot study of the collaborative interaction between industrial design and engineering design in a significant product
development project at a major Swedish vehicle manufacturer. Since industrial and engineering design have different approaches to product
development, they require careful integration to reach their full potential, to reach project goals, and to ensure the innovative capability of the
company. The objective of the research was to identify factors and suggest practices which support successful integration and nurture design-led
innovation processes. In the study, six industrial designers at managerial and operative levels were interviewed. It was found that the industrial
design department developed multiple strategies in order to mitigate disagreements and conflicts of interest in the collaboration. Firstly, designers
developed long-term, inter-personal relationships with key engineering designers and property-owners, who were critical for meeting design related
objectives. Secondly, the design department instigated studio visits, where project members were invited to experience and review physical and
tangible prototypes, constructed to represent the current status of the project in terms of product design resolution. Furthermore, the study
suggested that the different ways to specify the design was a source of conflict, which could not be resolved by creating shared understandings of
needs and objectives. Therefore, as a third strategy, the design department addressed top management to make design decisions of strategic
importance for the project. The study suggests that communication practices, creation of shared goals, and the use of ‘boundary objects’ support
interdisciplinary collaboration. Future studies will explore these factors further.


External organisations
  • Luleå University of Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Engineering and Technologies
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes
Event13th International Conference on Design Principles & Practices - St Petersburg, Russian Federation
Duration: 2019 Mar 12019 Mar 3


Conference13th International Conference on Design Principles & Practices
CountryRussian Federation
CitySt Petersburg