A book by a KTU scientist among the world’s best new books on innovation

Important | 2019-10-02

KTU School of Economics and Business prof. Max von Zedtwitz’s book “Responsible Product Innovation: Safety first” written with Andy Yunlong Zhu and Dimitris G. Assimakopoulos was identified as one of the best New Product Innovation eBooks To Read In 2019.

The list is made annually by BookAuthority – the world’s leading site for nonfiction book recommendations, helping readers find the best books on various topics.

“It is an unexpected honour to be included in this list. This is not a recognition one can plan to achieve. I believe this mostly shows how the topics of “Responsible Management” and innovation as a means to achieve the SDG Sustainable Development Goals become more mainstream. Our book just came out at the right time and hit the right nerve”, says prof. von Zedtwitz.

This is not the first international recognition of this KTU professor’s work. A year ago, prof. Max von Zedtwitz’s publication on innovation in China attracted a great deal of attention and became the lead article in the MIT Sloan Management Review, one of the world’s top 50 magazines.

Importance of responsibility is increasing

“Responsible Product Innovation: Safety first” analyses the relationships among product safety strategy and culture, concurrent engineering, new product development (NPD) processes and product safety performance.

“The importance of responsibility in product innovation will surely increase. Firstly because of the SDG Sustainable Development Goals, which are influencing companies in Europe to pay more attention to the long-term consequences of their actions, and that includes a focus on more responsible management in general and responsible innovation in particular. Also because of rising expectations from satisfying ethical standards by external stakeholders such as customers or investors, and internal stakeholders such as employees”, says prof. M. von Zedtwitz.

In the research of prof. Max von Zedtwitz, Andy Yunlong Zhu and Dimitris G. Assimakopoulos, many of the interviewed managers expressed their commitment to making products as safe as possible and achieving the highest possible quality, which represents an important dimension in responsible management. The book is based on Dr. Zhu’s DBA thesis with profs. von Zedtwitz and Assimakopoulos as his advisers.

Responsibility is necessary for various technologies

As prof. Zedtwitz claims, responsible management in product innovation is important not only for big-risk big-investment technologies such as nuclear power plants or airplanes but also in rather mundane and seemingly innocuous consumer products.

“For example, juvenile products such as cribs, sleepers, baby strollers, the industry focus of the study leading to the book. Babies are getting killed by unsafe juvenile products in the dozens or hundreds every year, worldwide. Some could be prevented by more attentive parents, but other incidents are due to poor design. In fact, one could say that juvenile products are killing more people than nuclear power plants. Hence it is SUPER important to put the utmost care in the design and manufacture of juvenile products, to minimize the risk of unsafe use of juvenile products. We studied exemplary – that is to say, “responsible” – innovation management of the industry leader, Goodbaby, who reduced safety incidents to near-zero over the course of over a decade by committing to a firm safety-first policy in baby stroller R&D and design”, says Max von Zedtwitz.

Costs time, but brings benefits

According to the book authors, top management commitment to safety and general safety-first culture are leading factors in helping firms achieve the highest levels of responsibility on innovation. Management must ‘walk the talk’ of highest ethics within the company to instil responsible commitment of everybody – engineers, sales, customers – coming in contact with their products.

“Of course responsible management is costing time, resources, money, etc., but in the long run, the company benefits from a stronger brand reputation and brand value, customers and markets benefit from improved quality of life and quite literally saved lives, and employees benefit from greater meaning and purpose of their daily work”, claims prof. von Zedtwitz.