The Evolution of Product Form: Identifying and Analyzing Styles in Design Patents

Past event — 23 January 2015

Spoken language

Profile image

Prof. Jürgen Mihm

Associate Professor



In this talk we introduce a structured approach to identifying styles (categories of product designs that are similar in form) among the nearly 400,000 US design patents granted from 1977 through 2010. We combine state-of-the-art clustering techniques with experimental validation to make available, for the first time, a rich data set of styles. We thus establish an empirical platform for the rigorous study of managing product form. Building on this platform, we analyze the dynamic property of “form turbulence”—the unpredictability of changes in the number of patents granted to a style from year to year. We find that (i) the level of turbulence in product form follows a U-shaped pattern with respect to the level of turbulence in product function, and (ii) product form turbulence is increasing over time. We discuss the implications of these findings for the management of product design.

About the presenter

Jürgen Mihm is an Associate Professor of Technology and Operations Management at INSEAD. His research interests are concerned with all management aspects of large engineering projects, especially incentives, with the implications of architectural decisions for engineering outcomes and the role of design in innovation. He has published in Management Science, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, Production and Operations Management as well as the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design. He holds a Doctorate in Technology Management from Wissenschaftliche Hochschule Koblenz (WHU) and a joint degree in business and electrical engineering (Dipl. Wirtsch. Ing.) from Technische Universität Darmstadt. Prior to his position at INSEAD, Jürgen Mihm was a long standing consultant with McKinsey&Company, Inc. in Frankfurt.

More info about Prof. Jürgen Mihm

About the Seminar

The KLU research seminar series is a regular meeting of PhD students, Post-Docs and professors who conduct research in the field of logistics and supply chain management. The research seminar is open to the public and we happily welcome guests.