|M.Sc Student||Gamliel Gershon Dana|
|Subject||What Does it Take to be Innovative in a World of|
Systems Engineers; Industrial Designers
and Work Context
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisors||Professor Emeritus Miriam Erez|
|Ms. Noemi Bitterman|
|Full Thesis text|
The present study focuses on two professions that are significantly involved in the design of complex products: Systems Engineers (Davidz & Nightingale, 2008) and Industrial Designers (Tovey, 1997). The study focuses on the initial phase of product design, which includes ideation, conception and preliminary design, and controls for about 70% to 80% of the cost and quality of final products (Subrahmanian & Reich, 2007).
Differences in innovative performance of Systems Engineers and Industrial Designers were investigated, in addition to the effect of contextual aspects of work demands. We manipulated two work conditions - one with a focus on the generation of creative ideas, the second with a focus on the implementation plan. 105 Systems Engineers and Industrial Designers participated and filled in computerized questionnaires that assessed personality, cognitive and creative style, and also their performance at the main task.
Results partially supported our hypotheses, indicating that Systems Engineers and Industrial Designers differed in their educational program and work focus. They did not significantly differ in their personal characteristics. However, they did differ in the creative ability test and final task performance at the levels of fluency and originality which were higher for Industrial Designers than Systems Engineers. The implementation plan of Systems Engineers was more compatible with the problem assigned than that of Industrial Designers. As for the contextual effect, support was found, demonstrating that solutions for car accidents were more original under instructions that emphasized idea generation, whereas lower complexity of solutions was detected under an emphasis on the implementation plan. Results stressed the importance of work focus instructions beyond professional differences.
Further, two rivalry hypotheses were posed: 1) "Fit"- work focus instructions that fit natural professional abilities lead to better innovative performance. 2) "Complement"- work focus instructions that complement natural professional abilities. The results supported the complementarity hypothesis, with a higher level of the relative advantage of the solution under the complementary rather than the fit condition. This suggests that shifting attention to the complementary factor of each profession - creativity for Systems Engineers and implementation for Industrial Designers - enhanced the relative advantage of the solution brought by each profession or each work context condition.