Title: SMEs and regional design services for innovation: experienced and expected impacts on users and non-users

Authors: Helinä Melkas; Satu Pekkarinen

Addresses: Lappeenranta University of Technology, LUT Lahti, Saimaankatu 11, 15140 Lahti, Finland ' Lappeenranta University of Technology, LUT Lahti, Saimaankatu 11, 15140 Lahti, Finland

Abstract: Small- and medium-sized enterprises aim at user-oriented, desirable products, but rarely employ design in a strategic manner. This paper focuses on SMEs as users and non-users of external design services. Views concerning impacts - experienced or anticipated, positive or negative - of using such services are sought from interviews. The study makes visible and categorises thirteen SMEs' views of impacts; it thus builds up the basis for future design use in regions. The results show that both users and non-users are sometimes unaware of how design services could be used in their products. More knowledge is needed concerning what design is all about. It is suggested that design services could be seen from an increasingly functional viewpoint. Making a distinction between mechanistic and functional viewpoints might advance holistic discussions of design understanding in the future; focusing on how design and business interact and serve companies, organisations and people in a novel way.

Keywords: regional design services; product development; service development; impact assessment; regional development; Finland; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; qualitative study; innovation; product design.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIRD.2016.079470

International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development, 2016 Vol.7 No.3, pp.222 - 236

Available online: 20 Sep 2016 *

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