Implementation Of Eco-Design In Product Development : Knowledge management for effective eco-design implementation

University essay from Jönköping University/Internationella Handelshögskolan

Abstract: Background: The accumulating concern for environmental change has increased the need for companies to take a closer consideration to the negative impact of their operations. One effective approach to mitigate the impact is to, from the very first stages when a product is developed, analyse the environmental impact of the product’s entire lifecycle from the raw materials extruded from the ground to the disposal of the product. This type of practice is often referred to as eco-design. Unfortunately, the rate of companies implementing these practices are progressing slowly and a truly sustainable society is yet not in reach. Purpose: This study aims to investigate some of the most commonly cited obstacles in previous research. These problems can be concluded as the lack of specialized competencies, regarding the environmental impact of products in design teams. The reason this is problematic is that the practice of eco-design often requires a lot of information to be interpreted by a person with knowledge in the field. Companies have attempts to solve this issue by hiring eco-design specialists, however this often leads to difficulties in communication and disagreements with product developers. Therefore, this relationship between different stakeholders has been the second focus of the thesis. To find solutions to these problems the topic will be investigated from a knowledge management perspective. Method: To begin with, background data was reviewed to give a firm understanding of the topic and to create the basis of the theoretical framework. Later a multiple case study of two companies were performed and empirical data was gathered mainly from interviews. The empirical findings were analysed and compared to the theoretical framework in order to answer the research question. Conclusion: The results show that implementing eco-design in a company's product development can be hard in the implementation phase but when the practices are established the flow of information receives less problems. Furthermore, the hiring of professional eco-designers can be a good choice although they need to be implemented directly into the design teams.

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