The importance of ergonomic design in product innovation: lessons from the development of the portable computer

Windrum, Paul and Frenken, Koen and Green, Lawrence (2017) The importance of ergonomic design in product innovation: lessons from the development of the portable computer. Industrial and Corporate Change . ISSN 0960-6491

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Abstract

The article addresses the role of ergonomic design in product innovation. Designers meet users’ needs by developing solutions to complex trade-offs—reverse salients—between a product’s characteristics. The fundamental ergonomic design challenge in portable computers concerns the reverse salient between two ergonomic factors: screen size and weight. It is easier to view information on larger screens, but portability is negatively affected by the weight of larger batteries required to power larger screens. This ergonomic reverse salient shaped the innovation trajectory of the portable computer, from the selection of the clamshell portable over alterative design configurations, to the search for more efficient batteries and new types of screens. Based on hedonic price analysis on data of ergonomic and technological characteristics, we show that (i) screen size and weight are key components in hedonic price functions, (ii) the interaction between screen size and weight is distinct from interactions between other, technological, characteristics that affect computing power, and (iii) positive prices are paid for the product solutions to the ergonomic reverse salient.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Social Sciences > Nottingham University Business School
Identification Number: 10.1093/icc/dtx006
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 18 May 2017 10:41
Last Modified: 19 May 2017 16:19
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/42936

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