Title: An empirical study of solution search processes in complex problem-solving: the vehicle cross-beam case

Authors: Ramsin Yakob

Addresses: Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, P.O. Box 610, SE 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract: A growing number of studies has focused on the activities that underlie the unfolding of knowledge-intensive problem-solving activities in new product development (NPD). However, this research relies extensively on the traditional dichotomy of problem-solving as consisting of analytical and/or directional search processes, located on opposite ends of the solution search continuum. Thus, we lack an understanding of other solution search processes used to overcome complex problems. In this paper, I address this research deficit by drawing upon an illustrative case study of engineers as problem-solvers in their attempts to develop a vehicle cross-beam. I show that problem-solvers iterate between three solution search processes to overcome technical design obstacles, namely, analytical, directional and synthesised search. The iteration between representations of solutions to problems (analytical search), the implementation of such solutions (directional search) and the subsequent evaluation of such solutions (synthesised search) provide problem-solvers with a means of reaching new frames of reference that mirror higher level learning in complex problem-solving.

Keywords: new product development; NPD; automobile industry; complex problem solving; knowledge management; learning; solution search; vehicle cross-beam; automotive cross-beam; analytical search; directional search; synthesised search.

DOI: 10.1504/IJATM.2015.072875

International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 2015 Vol.15 No.4, pp.329 - 357

Received: 14 Feb 2014
Accepted: 23 Dec 2014

Published online: 05 Nov 2015 *

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