External Design for Reputation, Perspective and Exposure
This paper analyses why and how design-centred industrial firms with internal design teams contract external designers. This research is based on an exploratory multiple case study methodology, with a sample of five highly reputable design-centred industrial firms, operating in hyper-competitive industries. While some results challenge the mainstream literature on design management, others expand the existing literature, highlighting that not all firms extract the same benefits from external designers; neither do all external designers bring the same benefits to firms. The paper shows that firms with internal design contract external design for (1) reputation (external designers sign products and bring their reputation to the product and to the firm), (2) perspective (external designers bring a different perspective, especially when they come from a different industry from the firm), and (3) exposure (external designers bring exposure that enriches internal design).