Engineering design research methodologies in product-service systems: When the complex gets tough

DS 87-3 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 3: Product, Services and Systems Design, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Ericson, Ĺsa; Lugnet, Johan; Wenngren, Johan
Series: ICED
Institution: Luleĺ University of Technology, Sweden
Section: Product, Services and Systems Design
Page(s): 351-358
ISBN: 978-1-904670-91-9
ISSN: 2220-4342


The research field of Product-Service Systems (PSS) emerged within the engineering design field to address sustainability and radically lower environmental impact from production and product use stages. PSS research has progressed insights of the industrial phenomena, but are often grounded in either product or service development, and the sustainability perspective had diminished over time. The deviation from what was intended might depend on research methodologies that do not meet the requirements of PSS multidisciplinary research. Some reflections of our research and craftsmanship are thus needed, which is also the purpose of this paper. PSS are used in the paper as a framework to highlight some of the facets of engineering design research activities. The paper suggests that multidisciplinary research has to manage different methodologies and different theories, this can be achieved if underlying assumptions are made transparent and if contradictions between those and the conclusions are discussed. Finally, the paper make an effort to encourage discussions about research methodologies to improve not only research but also implementation in industry.

Keywords: Product-Service Systems (PSS), Multi- / Cross- / Trans-disciplinary processes, Research methodologies and methods, Research philosophy, Theoretical baseline


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