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Do Designers and Managers Complement Each Other?

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Do Designers and Managers Complement Each Other? The influence of cognitive style on product performance



Kasia TABEAU, Gerda GEMSER, Erik Jan HULTINK and Nachoem M. WIJNBERG


Prior research suggests that designers may complement managers in
achieving successful innovation outcomes because of their different ways to
approach problems and opportunities. Designers have, for example, been
ascribed characteristics such as being explorative, future oriented and
intuitive, while managers have been described in terms of a preference for
exploitation, driven by the past and being rational. There is, however, not
much empirical research that examines whether designers and managers
indeed think differently and how this affects innovation outcomes. We
attempt to fill this gap in the literature by examining how designers’ and
managers’ cognitive styles (in terms of creativity, conformity, and attention
to details) influence outcomes of innovation projects. Our results indicate that
conformist managers enhance financial product performance, while creative
designers contribute to higher levels of success by developing products that
are both unique and of high quality. Moreover, designers’ and managers’
cognitive styles complement each other, indicating that for higher levels of
product performance creative designers should not conform to rules and
conformist managers should not be creative. However, our results also
indicate that product performance is enhanced when designers and
managers are both attentive to details, indicating that these professionals
supplement each others’ abilities as well.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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