Design-Led Innovation For Improved Paint Manufacturing : A Case Study Of Companies In Nairobi
Mukhwana, Wanakuta Henry
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Companies are obligated to reconsider their business approach and transform their capabilities as they adjust to the impacts of deregulation, globalization and the knowledge economy. There is an everlasting necessity for deliberate processes to facilitate organisational performance through alignment of vision, mission, strategy, culture, people, processes and products. Previous empirical research has shown Design-led Innovation as a methodology which businesses can utilize to innovate by developing capacities to be able to interact, iterate and discover novelty propositions within markets, in effect, modifying their operational and strategic fundamentals. This process in the Kenyan context however, is perceived to be utilized imprecisely as exemplified within the paint manufacturing industries. This research sought a detailed contextual understanding of Design-led Innovation, and the appropriate process of integrating it in the manufacturing sector in Kenya. Espousing a Naturalistic Inquiry, otherwise acknowledged as Constructivism or a constructivist conception, the research was embedded within the fields of design and business. Using a mixed research methods of qualitative and quantitative, a sample of eight paint manufacturing companies in Nairobi, were selected and considered for data. This was done in a bid to answer the research questions that include: Do the paint manufacturing companies in Kenya utilize Design-led innovation? To what extend do the paint manufacturing companies utilize Design-led innovation? What are the customer preferences and satisfaction levels with paint products as impacted by Design-led innovation? What is Design-led innovation and its potential value to business as informed by the Kenya paint manufacturing companies context. How can Kenyan paint manufacturing companies adopt design-led innovation how can Kenyan manufacturers use Design-led Innovation? Multiple data sources including semi-structured interviews and questionnaires xiv were considered and used to gather data from the target populations. The data was analysed using thematic coding. Key findings indicated that the paint manufacturing companies utilize design-led innovation at distinct levels, a factor attributed to various dynamics and parameters, one of which was lack of proper understanding of the process in question. The study more so found out that the process of Design-led innovation took place within organizational contexts, at distinct levels over a period of time, involved many participants. Design-led innovation in companies was found to unfold into complex bundles of ideas and divergent paths of activities within the organizational units. Customers and retailers were also targeted to validate the process benefits in terms preferences, where companies that are deemed to be design-led had their products preferred by users. The design-led innovation imperatives identified within these companies, helped to build a contextual theory as well as a framework with which the research recommends adoption within paint manufacturing companies, for the full benefits of Design-led innovation to be realised. The study concludes that Design-led innovation offers limitless potential for Kenya’s manufacturing via activation of trusted proven design methodologies such as the framework formulated. More so, the study recommends the adoption of a contextual framework to address inconsistencies of design-led use as seen within the paint manufacturing companies. It further recommends that researchers seek directions to imbue contextual design-led processes within different contexts to enable development of receptive products and brands.
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