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Enhancing new product development in low income economies

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posted on 12.05.2015, 13:48 authored by Timothy Whitehead
In an attempt to increase opportunity and quality of life for people living in poverty,governments and non-government organisations (NGOs) sell and donate products to developing countries. Typically, these are essential household items such as cook stoves, water filters and solar lighting. However, to date there has been limited research into the uptake and long term effectiveness of these products and few methods or tools are available to guide the product development process. This has resulted in a number of well documented product failures as a result of poor design choices. To overcome this problem and provide guidance to future or existing designers and NGOs this research investigated the factors required for long lasting and effective product design. This was carried out through the use of a literature review, the analysis of 64 products, a survey, interviews with product designers, and a case study with a Social Enterprise in Myanmar (Burma). The information gathered was analysed and used to create a framework consisting of various tools to guide designers and NGOs. Specifically, the research focused on the creation of a taxonomy of products designed for developing countries and an assessment method consisting of eight critical indicators for product success. These were presented as a website, set of cards and book which guides and assists designers during the process to ensure that future products are appropriate and to prevent current unacceptable levels of waste. Following the creation of the framework it was evaluated by students, practitioners and existing product users in Myanmar. The findings revealed that participants felt the assessment method and indicator cards were beneficial during the design process and assisted them in the development of more suitable and appropriate products.





  • Design


© Timothy John Whitehead

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.