Wong, Daniel T. M.
Questioning the Innovation of Complex Products and Systems
with a Case Study of the Boeing 737 Airplane.
PhD thesis, Concordia University.
- Accepted Version
Complex Products and Systems (CoPS) is an established category of products that are recognized to be underserved in the area of innovation. CoPS tend to be highly costly projects that are characterized by difficult development uncertainties and low rates of production. As a result traditional innovation theories are not seen to be easily applicable particularly as manufacturers of CoPS can tend to struggle with accomplishing dominant designs and enjoying the downstream fruits of product maturity such as commoditization. To further investigate this concern, a case study is performed on the Boeing B737 airplane which is the most successful selling commercial jet airplane series in history. The amazing part of the story is that it has been able to do this and maintain competitive parity in the face of competition from the Airbus A320 airplane which has a design origin close to 20 years ahead of the B737. To perform this study, a review of innovation theory, particularly Disruptive Innovation, is done together with the concept of product platforms and product families. The results show that the challenge of CoPS can in fact be potentially overcome by employing an appropriate strategy of product platforms and continuous upgrading of product architecture.
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