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Designing in young organisations: engineering change propagation in a university design project

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Engineering change (EC) is an important phenomenon in the design of products and systems, accounting for nearly one-third of the work effort; however, the literature has been focused on mature firms, and few studies have documented the impact of EC beyond them. Hence, we use a case study approach to study EC and its propagation in the context of a university design project as an example of young organisations, and compare it with the existing work done on mature firms. It was found that 33% of the changes that occurred in the case study were planned, and change propagation accounted for 20% of all changes. The propagation of changes was usually one step (67%), and it was concentrated in one independent network (54%). The results were subsequently compared with EC studies done in mature firms, being revealed that EC behaves differently in the context of a university design project; hence, existing change management tools developed to suit mature firms may not be directly suitable for supporting university design projects. The findings from this work can be used as a platform to better understand how EC propagates when designing in young organisations and shape the development of appropriate change management tools.

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This research is funded by the EDIC Seed Fund (R-261-503-003-133), National University of Singapore. An abridged version of this work was presented at the 14th International Design Conference 2016.

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Correspondence to Roberto Duran-Novoa.

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Duran-Novoa, R., Weigl, J.D., Henz, M. et al. Designing in young organisations: engineering change propagation in a university design project. Res Eng Design 29, 489–506 (2018).

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  • Engineering change
  • Change propagation
  • Young organisations
  • Start-ups
  • Mature firms
  • DSM