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Risky Business: The Driving Factors of Creative Risk Taking Attitudes in Engineering Design Industry

[+] Author Affiliations
Xuan Zheng, Scarlett R. Miller

Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA

Paper No. DETC2017-67799, pp. V007T06A028; 11 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 29th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Cleveland, Ohio, USA, August 6–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5821-9
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Designing breakthrough products comes at a great cost to the design industry due to the risk and uncertainties associated with creative ideas. However, without creative ideas, there is no potential for innovation. As such, companies need to appropriately embrace the risk associated with creative concepts in the fuzzy front end of the design process in order to build their value. While previous research has linked risk taking attitudes to creative idea generation and selection in engineering design education, there has been limited research focused on engineering design professionals’ creative risk taking attitude and the corresponding driving factors. This is problematic because without this knowledge we do not know what factors inhibit or promote the flow of creative ideas in engineering design industry. In order to address this gap, a preliminary online survey was conducted with 46 design professionals from a global manufacturing company to understand the potential driving factors of creative risk taking, including educational training, job type (R&D, applied engineering, or management), and years of experience. The results suggest that there is a relationship between employee education level and years of experience and an engineering employee’s willingness to take risks on creative ideas in the fuzzy front end of the design process. Interestingly, the results also show that those individuals primarily responsible for the development (R&D) and selection (management) of creative ideas tend to be more financially risk averse than individuals in traditional engineering positions. These results contribute to the prediction of professionals’ design behaviors and have implications for the management of creative ideas in the early conceptual design stages of engineering design industry.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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