Building design as a dynamic capability: A model for design integration

Building design as a dynamic capability: A model for design integration

Building design as a dynamic capability: A model for design integration

Julie Sahakian, Sihem BenMahmoud Jouini

kHUB post date: January 2, 2024
Originally published: June 6, 2024 (PDMA JPIM • Vol 40, Issue 5 • September 2023)
Read time: 65 minutes

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A growing number of firms have integrated design in order to foster innovation and growth. Recent literature acknowledges design as a capability leading to differentiation and competitive advantage. However, how such a capability is built within companies with no past experience in design has not been fully addressed. Our objective is to bridge this gap. Indeed, most existing contributions focus on design intervention, that is, using design in projects, rather than design integration, that is, its systematic use and long-term engagement as an embedded practice in the organization. Based on a longitudinal case study of an insurance company, complemented with an investigation of five other firms from other sectors, we offer a model for building design as a dynamic capability: Triggered by strategic orientations, firms acquire design resources and deploy them in activities such as projects in order to produce tangible results. Capitalizing on what they have learned in these projects, they progressively consolidate this knowledge in an expertise, which is then shared and diffused, thereby renewing the firm's resources. Therefore, our model highlights a reinforcement dimension: In addition to an operational capability (designing, spreading, and managing design), it is also a regenerative capability that consists in building the design expertise, advocating for it, anchoring, and renewing it. We thus have two contributions: (i) We conceptualize design as a dynamic capability enabling the development of new offerings, processes, and strategies that lead to organizations' competitiveness and transformation, and (ii) we propose a model for building such a capability.

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