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Designing a business unit and creating the first ever responsive kitchen

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Abstract

Is it possible to transform stone into a technological and innovative device? The meeting with one of the main stone transformers in Europe produced the intention of a disruptive operation that could affect the strategy of the whole company. A contagious singularity. By intertwining LEAN methodologies and the human-centric approach of design thinking, we mapped the value creation in the company activating a dialogue with the workers and the management, listening to people, asking for ambitions, discovering problems and the potential of production. This qualitative and quantitative analysis conducted with a multidisciplinary approach by designers, architects and marketing strategists allowed us to define a new method. We used it to design a platform that could let all the players express their potential to the maximum. This is how the group's research laboratory was born, with the aim of promoting the relationship between humans and stone through product innovation. With this goal, we coordinated the new team, developing technologies that would allow creating a more direct relationship between man and surface, making the stone reactive. The result was the first responsive kitchen ever.

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In this paper we present a study of the structure of three lead firm-network relationships at two points in time. Using data on companies in the packaging machine industry, we study the process of vertical disintegration and focus on the ability to coordinate competencies and combine knowledge across corporate boundaries. We argue that the capability to interact with other companies—which we call relational capability—accelerates the lead firm's knowledge access and transfer with relevant effects on company growth and innovativeness. This study provides evidence that interfirm networks can be shaped and deliberately designed: over time managers develop a specialized supplier network and build a narrower and more competitive set of core competencies. The ability to integrate knowledge residing both inside and outside the firm's boundaries emerges as a distinctive organizational capability. Our main goal is to contribute to the current discussion of cooperative ties and dynamic aspects of interfirm networks, adding new dimensions to resource-based and knowledge-based interpretations of company performance. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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