Design and Competitive Advantage in Technology-Driven Sectors: The Role of Usability and Aesthetics in Dutch IT Companies1

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This exploratory study examines the relationship between design and competitive advantage in a technology-driven sector. The sector chosen as a research setting is the Dutch information technology (IT) sector. The research on managerial perceptions of the benefits and costs of design focused on the design dimensions of usability and aesthetics. Semi-structured interviews with managers from eight IT companies were conducted to collect empirical data and two feedback sessions were organized to verify the conclusions drawn. As expected, it was found that design is a relatively under-utilized strategic tool in the Dutch IT sector. Sensitivity to usability and aesthetics throughout the NPD process, however, seems necessary considering the tendency towards price competition in the IT sector as a consequence of overcapacity and standardization of IT technology and functionality, and an increasingly critical attitude of customers towards the costs of IT. The only solution to this cost trap would seem to be to add real value.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Faculty of Management and Organization, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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