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Internal and external R&D collaboration as drivers of the product innovativeness of the German mechanical engineering industry

: Kinkel, S.; Som, O.


International journal of product development 12 (2010), No.1, pp.6-20
ISSN: 1477-9056
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
product innovation; organisational innovation; mechanical engineering industry; simultaneous engineering; R&D collaboration; lean production; drivers of innovation

In terms of the intensity of Research and Development (R&D), the German mechanical engineering industry might at first sight not seem to be 'cutting-edge technology'; however, it distinguishes itself successfully as a technology, innovation and quality leader in international competition. Along with a strong customer orientation and a high complexity of products, this requires the use of supporting organisational concepts of product development to exploit the available resources for innovation effectively and efficiently. For this purpose, the concept of 'lean production' provides two organisational concepts of product development, i.e., simultaneous engineering and participation in R&D cooperation with external partners. Both concepts are deployed at an above-average level in the German mechanical engineering industry. An impact analysis documents the positive effects of these concepts on the product innovation success of the enterprises studied. However, the strength of these effects partially depends on the level of the firms' R&D expenditures. Therefore, the use of such concepts of product development should be well balanced with the individual innovation strategy of the company.