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The Change from Feature Focus to Customer Focus in Packaging Development

by Olsson, Annika, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
The paper and packaging industry is a major and important industry in Sweden. The industry is capital intensive with a large investment base and long cycles for renewal and replenishment of machine platforms and other production equipment. Thus, the paper/packaging industry traditionally has a technical product oriented view and product development in the industry is partly made and understood in isolation from customer and consumer knowledge. In the packaging industry, paper material is the dominant but has lately experienced increased competition from plastics. In this prevailing situation, it has been hard to identify competitive advantages of paper material and packaging producers and converters have not been able to meet the changed market and customer requirements. The paper industry therefore needs to provide packaging materials and packaging solutions that provide competitive advantage and meet the needs and expectations of customers and consumers. Based on this background, the basic postulate proposed for investigation in this research is the need to turn toward a customer perspective, with increased customer understanding, in the development of packages and paper packaging material. The purpose of this research is to better understand the different factors that affect the transformation of perspectives, from a product perspective to a customer perspective, in paper/packaging producing organizations, with regard to product and service development. The understanding of the transformation of perspectives is interesting both from an expected customer outcome and from the viewpoint of the producing organization. The research aim is to highlight the perspective transformation in the organization on a system level as well as on an individual level, since the impact of individuals cannot be excluded when the aim is to understand such transformation. It is identified from research in service management that customer orientation is central in service management and that service development emanates from customer needs. Therefore, learning from the service industry, for knowledge transfer and for implementation in the paper/packaging industry is part of this research. The entire research is based on different studies in the paper/packaging industry and in the service industry. All studies are based on real-life case situations with qualitative, subjective and interpretive analysis. The results from these different cases are presented in five separate papers that are appended to this thesis. The thesis takes up a summary of the papers and the entire research. Based on the postulate that packaging development need to adopt a customer perspective, the research suggest for the packaging industry to align services to the core products for competitive advantage and increased customer value. The postulated customer perspective further proposes the package producer to regard oneself as part of the customers? and consumers? system. Models for working with the postulated perspective change as well as models for integration of individuals to the organizational systems are provided as a framework and theoretical contribution. The integration of the individuals to the organizational system concludes that the relations between employees and customers are pivotal for an increased understanding of customer needs. The interaction between product development employees and customers can therefore be enhanced through the trust of individuals within a system to transcend organizational boundaries into the entire system. It is further concluded in the research, that the transformation of perspectives is dependent on individuals and their learning. A daily desire to learn within an organization and individual courage to question the status quo, is necessary for the change to happen. One practical contribution of this research is the methods developed for such individual learning and for changing individuals? mindsets from a product/feature perspective to a customer value perspective in product and service development. In order to build knowledge about the transformation of perspectives, this research suggests action research as the preferred methodology for studying change processes. The main reason is the possibility to integrate human aspects into the change process and to get deep access to reality when studying the change of perspectives at the producer.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Lunds universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:TECHNOLOGY; Packaging Development; Individual & Organizational Learning; Customer Orientation; Perspective Change; Teknik; Technological sciences; Customer Value; Action Research; Innovation

ISBN:91-628-6713-X

Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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