The nature of conflict in design agency-supplier-business customer triads in NPD projects

FU, JIE (2019) The nature of conflict in design agency-supplier-business customer triads in NPD projects. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

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The dissertation aims to examine the inter-organizational relationship and conflict in design agency- supplier-business customer triads during new product development, especially how to manage the inter-organizational conflict among three parties. The previous studies have primarily focused on the dyadic client-supplier relationship and client-design agency relationship. With the emerging of the networking concept, it reveals the necessity of studying the triadic relationship among design agency-supplier-business customer. This study has applied qualitative research and the data was collected from a semi-structured interview based on six case studies. The data was mainly from a design agency perspective. An account manager and a designer were invited to provide insight for each case. Also, the previous studies have paid attention to the relationship between the intensity of inter-organizational conflicts and NPD performance as well as the relationship between conflict-handling style and NPD performance in a dyadic client-supplier collaboration. Therefore, this research places the context in a specific design agency, supplier and business customer triad with the purpose of investigating the inter-organizational relationship in different industries and different types of projects.

Previous literature supports the main findings. It discovers that the nature of the relationship in the proposed triad is a cooperative relationship established on a project. Because of the difference in roles and benefit needs, three parties may produce various conflicts in cooperation. The conflicts include role-related task conflict, benefit-related task conflict, relationship conflict and process conflict. Reasons were further investigated. It discovers five task contexts as the trigger of the conflicts, namely product novelty, entry time of each party, the client's working style and personal ability, the relationship, the communication mode and frequency. These factors may lead to different understandings of the NPD process, technical perceptions, mindset. Also, they may arise budget issue, incomplete exchange of information, miscommunication, mistrust and lack of mutual understanding that finally cause the conflicts. The research also figures out how the triad firms manage conflicts. In the proposed triad context, design agencies often use obliging conflict-handling style to solve conflicts due to the flexibility of the design. Business customers often use dominating and avoiding conflict-handling style. Integrating and compromising conflict-handling styles are sometimes widely adopted by all parties.

Finally, the research discusses the limitation and managerial implications. It aims to help design agencies, suppliers and business customers to reduce the conflicts and improve the arrangement of different types of NPD projects.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: FU, JIE
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2022 14:43
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2022 14:43

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