Industry-specific Fuzzy Front End : A multiple case study in the Swedish medical device industry

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad

Abstract: Background: Medical device companies must consider different laws and regulations when developing new products. Not just laws and regulations put on themselves, but also laws and regulations put on the market, including the public sector. New product development consists of what is known as the fuzzy front end (FFE) of innovation, where companies must make ill-defined decisions with limited information. Problem formulation: There is a vast number of studies within the FFE of innovation, many of which focus on what causes the fuzziness, namely uncertainty, complexity and equivocality. There are, however, limited studies focusing on the FFE within the medical device industry, emphasising the public sector. Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to explore the FFE of innovation within the Swedish medical device industry, where the public sector is prominent. The aim is also to highlight industry-specific aspects of the whole FFE for medical device companies to consider when commercialising their products to the public sector, which is arguably an even fuzzier market. Method: To be able to answer the research question, this thesis is built upon a qualitative, multiple case study with an abductive approach to theory development. Five interviews were conducted with four different companies within the medical device industry in Sweden., and two interviews were conducted with two different county councils in Sweden. Findings: The main findings of this thesis are that the public sector creates higher amounts of uncertainty and complexity within the medical device industry. Thus, the FFE of innovation is industry-specific and also depends on what type of product is being developed. Equivocality as well is found to have other dimensions within FFE in the Swedish medical device industry. Conclusion: Many aspects of the FFE of innovation from previous studies exist in the medical device industry in Sweden, but the FFE seem to contain higher amounts of each cause of fuzziness.

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