Product evolution: how new (types of) products come about & develop over time into families of advanced versions

Huub Ehlhardt

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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This thesis presents a Theory of Product Evolution which builds on the work of many scholars who have described evolutionary patterns in innovation processes. It challenges the popular notion that we owe the availability of products solely to genius inventors. Instead arguments are presented to show that a process of variation, selection and retention driving the accumulation of ‘know-how’ (to make) and ‘know-what’ (function to realize) provide an explanation for the emergence of products and their subsequent development into families of advanced versions. This theory employs the Product Evolution Diagram as an analytical framework to reconstruct the development history of a product family and picture it as a graphical narrative. Two retrospective case studies explore how products come about and develop over time into a family of advanced versions. The cases studied illustrate that the process of evolution in products cannot be understood if described in technology terms alone. It reveals that contextual factors are part and parcel of the evolution of products. Product Evolution will be of interest to design students and professionals, as well as general readers who want to find out more about how new (types of) products emerge.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Eger, Arthur O., Supervisor
Award date29 Apr 2016
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-6464-988-2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2016


  • IR-100342
  • METIS-316597


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