Competitive Advantage through Strategic Design (CASD) was about achieving effective strategic design thinking that enhances the competitive position of Product Service Systems and industrial design providers. Product Service Systems (PSS) can help companies achieve competitive advantage. To realize effective PSS, companies should integrate design thinking in their innovation process.

Design thinking is characterized as a creative, user-centered and vision based approach – rather than being technology or marketing driven. Design thinking becomes strategic if it is adopted in the fuzzy front end of innovation where opportunities are identified and ideas are generated, or when it informs strategic decision making at later stages. Strategic design thinking can help firms to realize (a portfolio of) PSS combinations that are recognizable, legitimate and coherent for customers. 

What questions were being answered?

Teams from 3 universities and industry partners were working together to answer the questions:

How should strategic design thinking be integrated in PSS portfolio management to optimize outcomes?
How should organizations structure and manage their relationships with professional designers when developing new PSS to optimize outcomes?
How to design PSS that are coherent and provide customers with a positive, holistic experience?

What have  the teams achieved?
The results include knowledge, design tools and PSS development methods that will help industrial designers and other suppliers of creative services adopt an effective strategic role in the PSS innovation process.

Timeframe and communication:
Throughout the project, findings have been published via this website, in professional journals, and in academic journals. Findings were also disseminated in workshop and in educational programmes.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Delft University of Technology, University of Amsterdam and the Design Academy Eindhoven;
Creative and Industry partners: KVD, Fabrique, Flex, NPK Design, Scope, Philips Design, Studio Dumbar, Sky Team, KLM, Oce industries, Zeeno.

Project leader
Giulia Calabretta, Delft University of Technology


  • Ambidexterity in dyadic NPD relationships Tabeau, K., Gemser, G., Wijnberg, N.M., and E.J. Hultink Examination of individual ambidexterity of industrial designers and NPD project managers, and how these actors interact with each other during NPD projects. Development of a theoretical model and
    Examination of the relevance of this model by means of examining team cooperation within four NPD projects of a high tech multinational
  • Meaningful mix or tricky conflict - A categorization of mixed emotions and their usefulness for design Fokkinga, S.F., and P.M.A. Desmet A phenomenological study was carried out to find out which kinds of situations evoke mixed emotions, how these emotions influence and transform people’s subjective experience, and what the underlying differences are between mixed emotions that contribute to richness of experience and those that detract from it. Download
  • Spray-On Socks: Ethics, Agency, and the Design of Product-Service Systems Taylor, D Reflection on the role of designers that are increasingly becoming more than the shaper of an individual material artifact and envisioning and constructing systems of provision. Download
  • Ten ways to design for disgust, sadness, and other enjoyments: A design approach to enrich product experiences with negative emotions Fokkinga, S.F., Desmet P.M.A. This paper demonstrates how designers can enrich user experiences by purposefully involving negative emotions in user-product interaction. This approach is derived from a framework of rich experience, which explains how and under what circumstances negative emotions make a product experience richer and enjoyable Download
  • Vessels: Objects as carriers of intangible content in Product Service Systems This paper challenges the role that products can have in services and proposes the term Vessel as an object in services that can carry and deliver intangible meaning to stimulate better interactions between service users and frontline staff. Download
  • Do designers and managers complement each other? The influence of cognitive style on product performance. Tabeau, K., Gemser, G., Hultink, E.J., Wijnberg, N.M. examining how designers' and managers' cognitive styles (in terms of creativity, conformity, and attention to details) influence outcomes of innovation projects. Our results indicate that conformist managers enhance financial product performance, while creative designers contribute to higher levels of success by developing products that are both unique and of high quality
  • From Product to Effect: Towards a human-centered model of product impact. Fokkinga, S.F., Desmet, P.M.A., Hekkert, P., ñzcan, E. This paper introduces a human-centered model of product impact, which involves all experiential and behavioral effects that can result from human-product interaction Download
  • Run for your life! Using emotion theory in designing for concrete product interactions. Fokkinga, S., Desmet, P. This paper describes a research through design study that investigated the possibility of using emotion theory in the materialization of an interactive product. It is argued that many design for emotion approaches are inspirational and useful in the conceptual phase of a design project, but not in the phase in which concepts are elaborated into final products. The starting points of the study were a design for emotion approach that uses negative emotions to enrich product experiences, and a product that was intended to add engagement to the activity of running by providing users with the experience of being chased. The process of materializing the concept into a prototype, and testing this prototype with participants, was guided by emotion theory. The reflection on this process led to several insights that are interesting for the design of concrete interactions in design for emotion approaches. Download
  • Reversal Theory from a Design Perspective Fokkinga, S., Desmet, P.  
    Designers increasingly make use of psychological theory to understand a product’s user and to support their design efforts. This paper considers how insights from reversal theory have informed and inspired design research and practice. We identify two key benefits of reversal theory over other theories: it offers a dynamic rather than static, and a holistic rather than fragmented model of human functioning. Based on different aspects of reversal theory, six design opportunities were formulated: Products that are inspired by motivational states, products that make use of users’ motivational states, products that reverse motivational states, products that provide a variety of experience through psychodiversity, products that communicate and surprise through cognitive synergies, and products that offer emotionally rich experiences through parapathic emotions. Each of these opportunities is illustrated with examples of existing products and conceptual design.
  • Making it real: successful service innovation through integrated service implementation Beck, C., Calabretta, G., De Lille, C., Van der Veen, O. This paper contributes to addressing how companies integrate service innovation in their organisational processes, structures, and value delivering systems. Inductive case study approach is used to characterize optimal service implementation and identify success factors in service implementation.  Download
  • From products to services: reflections on the challenges in designing for services Bhomer, M. ten, De Lille, C, Tomico Plasencia, O., Kleinsmann, M. This paper points to implications for designers who support organizations in the transition process from products to services based business models.  Download
  • Designing a product service system: Does congruity add value? Valencia, A., Mugge, R., Schoormans, J.P.L., Schifferstein, H.N.J. This paper discusses the influence of (in)congruities in the evoked symbolic meaning on consumers’ evaluations of a PSS. Results of this study suggest that congruent offerings can create assurance with consumers (i.e., reduce the perceived risk), resulting in a more positive evaluation of the complete offering. Download
  • A design perspective on customer co-creation Calabretta, G., G. Gemser, I. Karpen. Download
  • Challenges in the design of Smart Product-Service Systems (PSSs): Experiences from practitioners lencia, A., Mugge, R., Schoormans, J. P. L., & Schifferstein, H. N. J. Download
  • Collaborating with Design Consultancy Firms for Effective Strategic Decision-Making in New Product Development Calabretta, G., Gemser, G., Wijnberg, N., and Hekkert, P. Download
  • Balancing intuition and rationality for improving innovation decision-making: the role of design professionals Calabretta, G., G. Gemser, N. Wijnberg, and P. Hekkert. Download
  • Characteristics of Smart PSSs: Design Considerations for value creation Valencia, A., Mugge, R., Schoormans, J.P.L. and Hendrik N. J. Schifferstein Download
  • Distinctive characteristics of smart PSSs. Valencia, A., Mugge, R., Schoormans, J. and Schifferstein, H.N.J. Download
  • From Goal to Means: Shifting the Use of Emotions in User-Product Interaction Fokkinga, S.F., Desmet, P.M.A. Download
  • Mental Model Differences between External Designers and Their Clients: The Influence on Project Exploration, Project Exploitation and Project Performance. Tabeau, K., Gemser, G., Hultink, E.J., and Wijnberg, N Download
  • The influence of mental model differences between external designers and their clients on new product development outcomes Tabeau, K., Gemser, G., Wijnberg, N.M., & Hultink, E.J. Download
  • Darker shades of joy: The role of negative emotion in rich product experiences Fokkinga, S.F., Desmet, P.M.A. Download
  • Defining Product Service Systems Gemser, G., B. Kuijken, N. Wijnberg, and Erp , J. van Download
  • Improving innovation strategic decision-making through the collaboration with design consultancies Calabretta, G., G. Gemser, N. Wijnberg, and P. Hekkert Download
  • The experience of Product Service Systems B. Kuijken, N. Wijnberg, and J. van Erp. Download


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