17.2 System Innovation for Sustainability: A Risk-Based Double-Flow Scenario Method for Product Development Teams of Manufacturing Companies

A. Idil Gaziulusoy , Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Carol Boyle , Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Ron McDowall , Department of Management and International Business, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Due to the complexity embedded in the socio-technical system and associated long planning periods, system innovation is a research topic mainly of the science and technology policies area and not much effort has been put into investigating the means of involving companies and product development teams in planning for system innovation. Innovation at system level requires businesses to align their product/technology development decisions, strategies and business models with the society's long-term sustainability visions in a systemic way. In line with this requirement, this paper presents a generic scenario method developed to help product development teams of manufacturing companies in planning for system innovation. The scenario method was developed through:

·        integrating theory from sustainability science, futures studies and system innovation for sustainability;

·        carrying out a critical analysis of previous projects aimed to plan for and/or steer system innovation;

·        carrying out a review of system innovation typologies, scenario typologies and methods; and,

·        carrying out a review of drivers and barriers for businesses to adopt sustainability as a default business and product development priority and to undertake radical new product/technology development projects. This scenario method is novel for being systemic to link societal visions of sustainability to companies' strategic and product development decisions. The method uses a layered risk approach. This renders long-term thinking meaningful for businesses since contextual and business-related implications of generic sustainability risks are made explicit. A risk approach also enables considering not only environmental but also interdependent social aspects of sustainability. In order to link present reality and future aspiration, the method uses a double-flow approach unlike the previously used methods which use either backward or forward flows. This novel method can aid in meeting the world-wide challenge of sustainable development since it practically relates businesses and their activities to governance of system innovation.