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Digital archive of theses discussed at the University of Pisa


Thesis etd-02032018-110325

Thesis type
Tesi di dottorato di ricerca
Thesis title
Product and Process Innovation: from Manufacturing to IT Firms.
Academic discipline
Course of study
tutor Prof. Ciappei, Cristiano
commissario Prof. Dalli, Daniele
commissario Prof.ssa Liguori, Mariannunziata
commissario Prof.ssa Chiucchi, Maria Serena
  • agile
  • bibliometrics
  • innovation management
  • IT
  • manufacturing
  • process innovation
  • product innovation
  • software
  • stage-gate
Graduation session start date
Release date
Centuries ago, Adam Smith in his cornerstone essay Wealth of Nations, emphasized that innovation demands a critical investment of capital but is a crucial economic activity to fostering wealth. Two centuries after, Schumpeter brings back to the attention the role of economic factors in technical advancement, and underlines that innovation is a necessary and essential driver of economic development.
In recent times, the fundamental role of innovation in fostering economic development and well-begin is clear. As OECD remarks, innovation is something encompassed in every human action from scientific, technological, organizational, financial, and commercial activities essential to the creation and implementation of new or improved products or processes.
Precisely, OECD defines product innovation as a good or service that is new or significantly improved. This includes significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, software in the product, user friendliness or other functional characteristics. On the other hand, the same institution defines process innovation as a new or significantly improved production or delivery method. This includes significant changes in techniques, equipment and/or software.
Clearly, also, management scholars studied the innovation phenomenon, remarking how innovativeness is crucial to firms’ performance and survival. There is an extensive recognition that the introduction of innovative products and processes fosters the ability of firms to achieve a competitive advantage and, furthermore, to survive. Therefore, the study of product and process innovation gaining an increasing importance inside management studies, and the present work aims to stress quite a few streams of research inside this field of study, with a focus on manufacturing and information technology (IT) enterprises.
In doing so, the present work is structured in three sections: section one presents a bibliometric investigation of the available literature of product and process innovation in manufacturing firms. Using Web of Science database, section one offers a wider perspective of the most important papers published in the last thirty years. The study analyses the main journals, the main authors and the main papers inside such a field of study. Subsequently, a similarity analysis is used to show the correspondence of topics between journals and the connection between keywords. The outcome of the study is a widespread picture of the literature of product and process innovation in manufacturing field.
Next, section two stresses the recent and breakthrough phenomenon of Additive Manufacturing with an emphasis to manufacturing SMEs. The second section analyzes several firms that successfully introduced Additive Manufacturing in their production process. Using a series of in-depth interviews, part two presents some areas of interest where managers reported significant changes and challenges after and during the introduction of Additive Manufacturing. Moreover, the research highlights several pros and cons related to the introduction of such a production process apprizing the managers about the challenges that they should face.
Next, the last section analyzes how and why most innovation projects failed to meet quality, time and cost targets due to the high uncertainly in new product development process. The study takes into consideration Stage Gate and Agile methodology, analyzing their effect on the performance of innovative project. Thus, the last section shows that the adoption of Stage-Gate principles negatively influences projects’ quality, speed and costs. On the contrary, the use of Agile principles improves quality, speed and fit-to-market performance.
Finally, the conclusion presents several promising future directions of research handled by ongoing research projects.