Design resilience in the fuzzy front end (FFE) context : an empirical examination

A.A. Alblas, J. Jayaram

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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This study provides a detailed understanding of the flexibilities that affect performance of innovation projects in the fuzzy front end (FFE) stage. We use the ambidextrous theory approach along with theories on flexibility to propose key drivers of design resilience in innovation projects. A set of six in-depth case studies across a variety of contextual settings is used to investigate important sources of flexibilities that contribute to design resilience. The effects of different design flexibility on the firms design resilience are examined. Specifically, an in-depth examination of within case trends suggested key design flexibilities to be further examined in the across case analyses. Our findings provide valuable insights about the enabling design flexibilities and contextual effects of design resilience in the FFE stage of innovation projects. Based on the findings from the case studies, four sources of design flexibility emerged that vary in terms of their influence on design resilience: (1) iterative learning, (2) modularity, (3) engineering change management and (4) design reuse. Patterns from the across case analyses were then used to isolate specific types of design flexibilities that are important for design resilience and organisational resilience. We also provide categorisation of these drivers of design resilience in the context of passive flexibility and active flexibility practices. One of the major contributions of the study is that it provides a detailed categorisation of design resilience in relation to organisational resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6820-6838
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2015


  • architecture
  • contingency theory
  • design flexibility
  • innovation projects
  • integrated product and process design
  • modular design
  • product development process
  • Resilience


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