Barriers to shared understanding in collaborative design projects

Maaike Kleinsmann, Rianne Valkenburg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Collaborative design requires extensive communication between participants. Participants have to create shared understanding about the design content. The individual perspectives of the participants must be brought into coherence in order to develop new products successfully. Communication during collaborative design may lead to barriers, because participants have different perspectives and interests that may interrupt cooperation. Besides, there is no shared understanding between the participants due to lack of knowledge of each other's work domains. Literature describes barriers on three different levels, the participant-, project and organizational level. However, literature does not provide inside into what types of barriers occur during collaborative design. Therefore a hierarchical case study was done. The purpose of this empirical study is to map barriers that occur during collaborative design. To do that, we interviewed people from different disciplines in an automotive company. All participants were involved in the same project. The interviews were analyzed according to the learning history method. This method appeared to be suitable to map communication barriers in collaborative design. We found barriers on the three levels the literature acknowledged. The empirical study demonstrates which barriers occur in which phase in the NPD process. It also provided insight in the types of communication barriers that occur during a particular design task of the participants.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of ICED 03, the 14th International Conference on Engineering Design
EditorsAnders Folkeson, Margareta Norell, Ulf Sellgren, Klas Gralen
PublisherDesign Society
ISBN (Electronic)1904670008
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes
Event14th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2003 - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 19 Aug 200321 Aug 2003


Conference14th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2003
Abbreviated titleICED 03


  • Collaborative design
  • Integrated product development
  • Shared understanding


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