Inderscience Publishers

Continuous innovation and improvement of product platforms

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Product platforms are applied in order to increase the stability of the product architecture and to reap benefits of scale and scope. However, many firms face a dynamic environment with quickly changing market demands. In such an environment, firms may have to continuously renew and improve their product platforms to achieve desired flexibility. The modifications comprise two types of innovations, component as well as architectural innovations. Combining these types to simultaneously achieve stability and strategic flexibility demands continuous innovation capability. This paper provides a viable approach to coordinate architectural and component innovations. The paper is based on a case study of an international truck manufacturer. Two major issues, decision-making and the management of knowledge, stand out as important for realising continuous innovation and improvement of product platforms. Moreover, product platform management needs to consider modularity and its related economies of substitution.

Keywords: continuous innovation capability, product platforms, decision making, management of knowledge, strategic flexibility, component innovation, architectural innovation, improvement, product architecture, stability, dynamic environment, modularity

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