The survey instrument
The DME partners have decided to develop a new research instrument because currently no accurate instrument is available. By doing so the development process has become a labour-intensive and important part of the survey project.
Initial literature study
Before developing a survey questionnaire an initial exploratory research was conducted by means of a literature study. Several sources, articles and recent design research reports (from studies in various European countries) were studied to find particular evidence and be able to develop a typology for design management capability.
Development of survey instrument
Based on the findings from the literature study a questionnaire was developed to elicit the information required to meet the overall objectives of the survey.
As a basic model for the instrument the ‘Process Maturity Grid' is used, as proposed by Moultrie and Fraser (2004). This grid model can be used to describe the characteristic behaviour of companies at a number of levels. Process maturity principles have been applied to the assessment of a wide range of business issues, where maturity refers to ‘the degree to which processes and activities are executed following ‘good practice' principles and are defined, managed and repeatable'. We adapted the grid model to define four levels of design management capability, considering five factors and four process maturity levels.
The survey questionnaire is used to construct the research model. The rationale for developing a four level grid is to rank the SMEs based on their scoring rate.
Currently a pre-test study is being undertaken in eight countries (54 interviews in total). We believe pre-testing in various European countries is valuable when creating a European research instrument. It allows the developers to pay attention to translation matters and possible cultural differences. Another positive effect is knowledge transfer between DME partners.
For this purpose a workbook has been drafted to provide DME partners with guidelines, checklists and documents.
The pre-test study is needed to make sure that the questionnaire works well. Are we asking the right questions? Are they formulated is an understandable way? Are the answering categories relevant, sufficient and clear to respondents? Do they value this study?
Of course we also want to validate the instrument. Does it actually measure the design management capability of companies?
Pre-test results will be used for further development. A final version of the workbook is to be produced to support the execution of the survey by means of quantitative online research, to start in 2008.
The survey is to be carried out on national levels in the European countries. But if uniformity in questionnaire, sampling, data-analysis and reporting can be achieved, the results can be used to benchmark the practice of design management in various European countries. That, of course would be a major opportunity!