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Investigating effects of group model building on sustainable design decision-making
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0813-3193
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4875-391X
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5114-4811
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7382-1825
2022 (English)In: Sustainable Production and Consumption, ISSN 2352-5509, Vol. 33, p. 846-862Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This research seeks to investigate the effects of a Group Model Building approach on the sustainability knowledge base prior to the weighting of design requirements. Current practice shows that the knowledge about sustainability impacts and implications on other design objectives often is limited and dispersed among decision-makers. Including sustainability criteria in needs and requirements, therefore, tend to rely on limited knowledge and decision-support, leading to decision-makers often prioritizing design objectives that they are more experienced with. The aim of this research was to capture and discuss effects on team alignment of contextual sustainability understanding from co-modeling impacts and implications of sustainability on other design objectives. The research question guiding the study is ‘what are the effects of a group model building approach on early sustainability design decisions?’. A mixed-methods research, structured according to four assumptions, was designed to analyze effects quantitatively and qualitatively. The assumptions were that the proposed approach helps design teams foster an improved contextual sustainability understanding, align the view of the relative importance of sustainability, identify suitable sustainability improvement, and increase the knowledge maturity of their design decisions. The results triangulation showed that the participants showed signs of improved sustainability understanding of their design projects and that improvement actions were identified from applying the approach. A statistically relevant converging effect could be found on the team alignment of the weighting of sustainability criteria but not on the knowledge maturity. These findings are discussed to conclude on main contributions, limitations, and areas for future work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2022. Vol. 33, p. 846-862
Keywords [en]
strategic sustainable development, group model building, causal loop diagram, decision-making, requirements, sustainability criteria, knowledge maturity, decision support
National Category
Design
Research subject
Strategic Sustainable Development; Mechanical Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-22728DOI: 10.1016/j.spc.2022.08.005ISI: 000848098000014Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85136033211OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-22728DiVA, id: diva2:1643153
Part of project
Model Driven Development and Decision Support – MD3S, Knowledge Foundation
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20180159
Note

open access

Available from: 2022-03-09 Created: 2022-03-09 Last updated: 2022-09-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Towards sustainable product development through a lens of requirements
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards sustainable product development through a lens of requirements
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Product development companies’ attention and desire to contribute to sustainable development is growing fast but requires new capabilities. The socioecological systems constitute a complex landscape of operating conditions from which product development identify needs for new products. Correct needs interpretation is essential to ensure that the requirements that the needs are transformed into do represent the shared understanding of the design problem that is to be solved. However, companies find it challenging to integrate sustainability into requirements. Socioecological criteria therefore tend to be down prioritized in trade-offs with traditionally identified requirements for engineering design.

This thesis asks the following question: “In which ways can decision-making practices for requirements development and management support sustainable product development?” and aims to provide deeper knowledge to academia and support product development companies that wish to advance their contribution to sustainable development. A mainly qualitative research design using exploratory, descriptive, and prescriptive studies clarifies the research gap, and proposes and evaluates novel approaches to improve the state of knowledge and practice. These research studies are represented by the seven publications within this thesis. The first was a systematic literature review on current methods and tools for sustainability integration into requirements. Thereafter followed a multiple-case study with semi-structured interviews at seven Swedish product development companies. A model of five key elements of sustainability integration in requirements was proposed, which in a third, focus group case study with four companies, was developed into, and tested as, a self-assessment tool. The results were discussed in relation to theory on requirements engineering and sustainability design criteria, which emphasized that companies lack capabilities to contextualize requirements development using wider sustainability- and systems perspectives. Decision-makers responsible for requirements weighting need to anchor sustainability as a value driver which requires transparency and traceability in decision-support. A fourth study therefore explored sustainability integration in value modelling for concept selection, and a fifth study proposed an approach to guide sustainability criteria development following requirement characteristics. The sixth study proposed an approach to inform requirement analysis through improved systems contextualization, transparency, and shared understanding of sustainability in relation to other design objectives. Finally, the seventh study provided an outlook and initial discussion to guide the identification of value drivers on a macro-level in society which could leverage an increased uptake of sustainability-oriented requirements in product development

Altogether this thesis provides insights and approaches to guide companies to advance towards sustainable product development through the lens of requirements. Examples include key characteristics of, and principles for, identifying sustainability criteria and developing requirements using strategic sustainability thinking, as well as a support tool for guiding activities in different steps of the requirements development. The findings can also be used in education of future engineers and decision-makers, and for continued research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2022
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 2022:02
Keywords
Strategic sustainable development, sustainable product development, sustainable design, product design, sustainability criteria, requirements development, requirements, system analysis, group model building
National Category
Engineering and Technology Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Applied Mechanics
Research subject
Strategic Sustainable Development
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-22730 (URN)978-91-7295-436-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2022-06-02, J1630, Campus Gräsvik, Karlskrona, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 2199
Available from: 2022-03-10 Created: 2022-03-09 Last updated: 2022-05-05Bibliographically approved

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Watz, MatildaJohansson Askling, ChristianBertoni, AlessandroHallstedt, Sophie

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