Managing design in Chinese manufacturing industry

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Managing design in Chinese manufacturing industry

 

Author: Liu Xihui
Title: Managing design in Chinese manufacturing industry
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2010
Subject: Industrial design -- Management
Manufacturing industries -- China -- Management
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Design
Pages: xx, 399 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2441535
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/6088
Abstract: Since the term of design management emerged in the 1960s in Britain and Japan, the basic knowledge body of it has been established based on numerous studies. However, with its broad and vague scope, there is not a confirmed definition of it. At present, the three-levels theory of design management content, which was defined by Borja de Mozota in 1998, usually is utilized as research frame in this new discipline. The approach to design management also varies in different countries, because of their different history of design, utilization of design in industries, development of design consultancies, evolution of design education, and content of design management. In the UK, with the longest history of modern design, design management tends to be an independent function related to management. It lacks linkage with the practice of industries, however, and is limited to academic studies. In the U.S.A., design has been integrated into industries from its beginning. Based on it, design management emerges as a part of management profession. In Japan, supported by the government, design was utilized in its rapid-growth economy after WWII. It is viewed as an important element of Japanese innovation management, which contributes to the 'Japanese Miracle.' These various approaches also lead to diverse definitions and understanding of design management. In China, design management emerged based on its own background. The concepts of modern design were not really introduced into China until the Open Policy in 1978. After that, it has developed rapidly accompanying with the rapid-growth economy in the last thirty years. However, a gap between design theories and practice in industries has become evident. On one hand, its design theory is mainly borrowed from foreign countries without relating to local conditions. On the other hand, it seems that Chinese companies have developed their own ways of managing design in their practice. In addition, though theories of design management were introduced into China in 2000, it still has the same problem as design: a gap between Chinese local practice and conditions.
In this instance, it is necessary to understand design management practice in Chinese companies and find solutions for bridging this gap through researching practice of managing design in Chinese companies. These reflect the two objectives of this study: to describe the basic situation of design management in Chinese manufacturing industry; and to explore the ways of managing design in Chinese manufacture-based companies. This study conducted a combined research approach, in which qualitative research took dominate place. In the first stage, to understand design development in companies, hard and reliable data had been collected and analyzed through a quantitative approach: a survey. As a result, 117 valid questionnaires were received from companies in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) and Yangzte River Delta (YRD). At a second stage, to explore characteristics of design management in Chinese companies, rich and deep data was achieved through a qualitative approach. Twelve companies were selected based on the results of analyzing questionnaires. The characteristics of design management in China were obtained through comparing the cases with the criteria. This finally led to six models and the recognition of Chinese approach to design management. As a research initiative, this study contributes to the knowledge of design management in China in multiple aspects. An overview of managing design in Chinese companies is obtained, based on solid data from the survey of Chinese companies in the PRD and the YRD. The in-depth description of each interviewed company is organized into cases studies, which are the materials both for education and for establishing a framework of Chinese design management. With 12 cases and six models, practitioners of design management can learn practical experience and ways of managing design. In this instance, this study contributes to the practice, academic basis and education of design management in China by offering first-hand information and systemic understanding for Chinese and overseas researchers, as well as practitioners and educators of design management.

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