Design innovation practices in a global supply chain
A Fung Group case study
Keywords:innovation, supply chain, design thinking, digital technologies
Whereas the contribution of design thinking has already been appreciated both in academic literature and practice in the West, there have been little serious and comprehensive studies focusing on Hong Kong and China. This case study paper, therefore, reports about the design innovation practice in Fung Group, a Hong Kong-based company whose core businesses operate across the global supply chain for consumer goods including sourcing, logistics, distribution and retailing. The analysis (1) identifies and describes design practices that the company initiated to support service innovation (including new products, processes and business models) (2) identifies challenges in adopting and institutionalising such practices. The results show that the company supports both externally and internally oriented design practices – and loosens the boundary between the two – through the activities in the Fung Academy and a new innovation hub, Explorium, with a particular focus on utilising digital technologies. Specifically, the study demonstrates how the company empowers and involves a variety of stakeholders (individuals, groups, and organisations) in value co-creating practices involving absorptive, collaborative, and adaptive practices that aim to challenge or disrupt current practices. The study uncovers that some of the major challenges in such aspirations lie in the adaptation of design thinking organising logic and mindset to specifics of the Chinese socio-cultural context.