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The importance of ergonomic design in product innovation: lessons from the development of the portable computer

Windrum, Paul; Frenken, Koen; Green, Lawrence

Authors

Koen Frenken

Lawrence Green



Abstract

The article addresses the role of ergonomic design in product innovation. Designers meet users’ needs by developing solutions to complex trade-offs—reverse salients—between a product’s characteristics. The fundamental ergonomic design challenge in portable computers concerns the reverse salient between two ergonomic factors: screen size and weight. It is easier to view information on larger screens, but portability is negatively affected by the weight of larger batteries required to power larger screens. This ergonomic reverse salient shaped the innovation trajectory of the portable computer, from the selection of the clamshell portable over alterative design configurations, to the search for more efficient batteries and new types of screens. Based on hedonic price analysis on data of ergonomic and technological characteristics, we show that (i) screen size and weight are key components in hedonic price functions, (ii) the interaction between screen size and weight is distinct from interactions between other, technological, characteristics that affect computing power, and (iii) positive prices are paid for the product solutions to the ergonomic reverse salient.

Citation

Windrum, P., Frenken, K., & Green, L. (in press). The importance of ergonomic design in product innovation: lessons from the development of the portable computer. Industrial and Corporate Change, https://doi.org/10.1093/icc/dtx006

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 12, 2017
Online Publication Date Mar 13, 2017
Deposit Date May 18, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 14, 2019
Journal Industrial and Corporate Change
Print ISSN 0960-6491
Electronic ISSN 0960-6491
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/icc/dtx006
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/850181
Publisher URL https://doi.org/10.1093/icc/dtx006

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