Between product development and massproduction: Tenstion as triggers for concept-level learning

Meri Jalonen, Päivi Ristimäki, Hanna Toiviainen, Anneli Pulkkis, Mika Lohtander

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Purpose – This paper aims to analyze learning in organizational transformations by focusing on concept-level tensions faced in two young companies, which were searching for a reorientation of activity with a production network between innovative product development and efficient mass production.
    Design/methodology/approach – An intervention-based research project was carried out with two manufacturing companies. The data originate from workshops, whose aim was to identify learning needs based on the discussion of practices of networked production. Concept-level learning is analyzed by examining the dynamic relationships between production concepts and product concepts.
    Findings – The most influential concept-level tension stemmed from the co-existence of two production concepts, product development and mass production, which manifested as ambiguity about proper actions in the production network. Other focal tensions were identified between the production
    and product concepts and within the companies’ network relationships. The dominance of the mass production concept restricted the envisioning of new modes of collaboration and mutual learning in the production network.
    Research limitations/implications – The workshop participants did not include representatives from the case companies’ production network. Nevertheless, researchers brought the network partners’ conceptions into the workshop discussion through the presented mirror data.
    Practical implications – Companies striving to develop novel production concepts that call for continuous collaboration with customers and suppliers need forums for mutual learning to create solutions to concept-level tensions.
    Originality/value – Companies may develop two production concepts over lengthy periods. The tensions that manifest due to incoherent guiding logics may be overcome by engaging in incremental and expansive concept-level learning, directed at the identification of relationships between production
    and product concepts.
    Keywords: Product concept, Production concept, Tension, Networks, Mass production, Learning intervention
    Paper type: Research paper
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Workplace Learning
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)33-48
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Fields of Science

    • 516 Educational sciences

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