The smallest companies were less convinced of the

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The smallest companies were less convinced of the potential of design to reduce cost. The larger the company, the more design was perceived as a management asset with internal impact. Geographic differences emerged in design management, which reinforced differences
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in European management styles: in northern Europe design was seen as a knowhow that transforms processes, while in southern Europe design was limited to a useful tool in project innovation within a multidisciplinary team. Twenty-one different variables characterizing design management were analysed and classified in order to isolate the variables with the highest scores in the data matrix (Table 18.2). Design, which creates a competitive advantage, arrived in the first position. The thirty-three European design-driven firms in the sample reported unanimously that design provided them with a competitive advantage. Yet, there was no consensus in the way these companies connected design value with competitive advantage. A factorial analysis was conducted in order to group the twenty-one variables into significant clusters. The research proved that the discriminating factor between the economical versus the managerial vision of design value was: competitive advantage as market fit versus core competency. No correlation could be found between the variables describing economical value and the variables describing managerial value. Their independence was also reinforced by the fact that the variables describing the role that design plays in the innovation process were, on the contrary, highly correlated. So, these companies might not be similar in the way that they see design and its impact on the value chain. All thirty-three European SMEs employed excellent product design strategies, but the research question was: Do they manage design similarly? How do the CEOs of these SMEs link design with value management? A perceptual map representing the matrix of all twenty-one variables data along five significant axes was used to arrive at a typology of design management. It gave evidence that a variety of design management styles are being employed. Seven discriminating drivers emerged out of the twenty-one variables. These drivers are highlighted in Table 18.2 in bold type. The thirty-three SMEs, all excellent in design, were in four different classes according to design leadership. This typology validates the research assumption of using the concept of the value chain to explain different design management values and gives further evidence on how the value management concepts apply to the field of Design Management. The findings are known under the Designence model of design Management value. The leaders of these thirty-three SMEs agree on three routes for strategic competitive advantage through design: core competency organizational process and economic value. I will explain in the next section what they imply.
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