Class III

2001-2002

Class III completed their Capstone projects in November 2002. Below is a list of titles, authors, and advisors, followed by abstracts:

For a copy of a Capstone report, please e-mail christine.fisher@rit.edu and indicate project title, your organization, and the reason for your interest.

Current students should login.

Radical Innovation in Medium Size Companies

Patricia Dwyer (Kodak), Connie Treese (Xerox); Richard DeMartino (RIT) and Heidi Neck (Babson College), faculty advisors; Jim Russell (Xerox), industry advisor.

Unlike large enterprises and small startup companies, medium-sized firms ($100-$500MM in revenues) have been below the radar screen with respect to investigations of their unique challenges and assets for innovation implementation. Like large firms, medium-sized firms have institutionalized process-oriented structures to some degree. Like smaller companies, medium-sized firms have limited resources to support R&D or to defend commercialization of groundbreaking products. This exploratory study examines radical innovation in medium-size firms to uncover contextual issues unique to firms in this size category. Specific focus areas include: strategic view of radical innovation, decision-making framework, metrics utilized to approve and track projects, team structure, and other operational aspects of innovation.

An Exploration into the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation

Dhirendra Damji (Xerox), Scott Latona (Branson Ultrasonics), Rajesh Mehta (Kodak), Eric Mundt (Gleason); Bob Barbato (and John Striebich), faculty advisors; Zaki Mustafa (AirFlow Catalyst Systems), industry advisor.

A firm's ability to balance its efficient and rational tendencies against its entrepreneurial drive and innovation process has a strong influence on a company's ability to create new products. This paper examines the least understood segment of the innovation pipeline, the initial stage of the pipeline or fuzzy front end. By drawing strong parallels between the entrepreneurial process and the processes at the front end of the innovation process, and validating them with primary data, the authors offer a new framework for the fuzzy front end along with suggestions to help companies improve.

Strategic Alliances: Dynamic Factors That Can Change a Firm's Competitiveness

Mike Flood (Xerox) and Melissa McCullough; Sandra Rothenberg (and Stelios Zyglidopoulos), faculty advisors; Joe Gunzelmann (Xerox), industry advisor.

Strategic alliances have become an essential component of corporate business strategy, yet statistics suggest that up to 70% of alliances fail to deliver on their objectives. The authors examine the dynamic behavior of alliances, with an emphasis on those factors which originally influenced alliance formation. A framework for analysis of an alliance's environment is provided, and five cases are studied to test validity of the model and provide recommendations for alliance formation and management.

Creating Competitive Advantage in Commodity Markets: The Implications of Product Modularity on the Product Development Process

Johanne Korrie and Terry Street (both from Xerox), Giana Phelan (Kodak); Bob Boehner, faculty advisor; Daniel McCue (Xerox), industry advisor.

As the basis of competition moves away from features and functions to price and product variety, it becomes too complex, time-consuming, and expensive to develop integrated products. Consequently, companies must eventually modularize their designs; yet, the ability to create a product-based differentiation strategy is difficult in industries with modular product architectures. This paper examines how leading firms that compete in modular markets sustain competitive advantage, and how their product differentiation methodology affects the product development process. Six distinct approaches are identified and then examined at firms that have successfully adopted each approach.

Discovery of Hidden Assets in Large and Small Companies

Jim Abraham (Vanlab), Matt Lowenstein and Win Trafton (both from Kodak); Sue Hartman, faculty advisor; Karel Czanderna (Whirlpool), industry advisor.

Traditional methods of coupling a company's capabilities with the needs of customers are well known, yet maintaining a competitive advantage through these capabilities is a constant concern. Adrian Slywotzky and Richard Wise in, "The Growth Crisis and How to Escape It" have coined the term "hidden assets" and described how companies can leverage these assets to provide solutions that meet higher-order customer needs. This paper focuses on a methodology to help uncover a company's hidden assets, one that considers core competencies, strategic assets, capabilities, and strategic alignment. Hypotheses are tested through interviews at a series of large and small companies.