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Innovation in a company's design process is increasingly a matter of cooperation between the company and its customers. New information and communication technology (ICT) possibilities such as electronic communication (EC) media generate even more opportunities for companies to collaborate with customers during the early stages of research and development. This exploratory study examined the design process of five Dutch firms and the cultural and communicative implications of cooperation in the design process between the supplier and the customer using EC media. We found that the selected use of EC media for communication between R&D and customers has a positive effect on the design process. We also discovered that the characteristics of the most suitable EC media depend on the design activity and that the corporate and professional cultures of both the company and its customers involved in the cooperation seem to affect the communication media used. Finally, the future use of new ICT in the design area is discussed.
Date of Publication: Dec 2002