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Title: Elevating the perception of the strategic use of design for an airline through the design management conceptual framework (DMCF)
Author: Shams, Maha
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 2764
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2015
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This dissertation evaluates and elevates the perception of the strategic use of design for airlines, especially a Silent Design airline like Saudia Airlines. Saudia Airlines is an international airline located in the Gulf region in the Middle East. In comparison to some other Gulf state airlines, Saudia Airlines benefits from its large geographical coverage, and is considered to be one of the richest and longest established carriers in the industry. However, the rapid growth during the past few years of other Gulf carriers (e.g. Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways) highlights the necessity for improvements to be made by Saudia Airlines so that it can sustain its position in the global market. These three mega Gulf airlines have shown major developments in their strategic use of design in delivering innovative and differentiated design touch points in their customer journeys. The purpose of this research is to ‘create a design management conceptual framework (DMCF) to assist Saudia Airlines in evaluating and elevating the perception of the strategic value of design.’ To date, airlines adopting a Silent Design approach have rarely been addressed in empirical studies. To achieve this, secondary research investigated several topics, mainly the perception of the strategic use of design, the operational use of design and how design was managed based on design management evolution. Furthermore, design outcomes are presented after implementing the strategic use of design, to deliver innovative and differentiated results. Moreover, the case studies of several companies are presented that use design at a strategic level, especially in the airline industry. The primary research investigated key stakeholders’ views (customers, design experts and Saudia Airlines’ employees and design consultants). The findings from these investigations, and emergent key themes and sub-themes created the prototypes that led to the formulation of the DMCF, which is the main contribution of this study. The DMCF was developed and tested with experts in the field. The proposed framework is considered a significant starting point for airlines that want to evaluate and elevate their perception of the strategic use of design. The DMCF addresses the significant results of this study and key points are made, as follows: 1) Four key dimensions are identified: a) organisational mind-set, b) structure and design capabilities, c) design process and communication, and d) customer experience, which could evaluate and elevate the strategic use of design. 2) The Silent Design culture is identified as pertaining to Saudia Airlines in this study. This culture emphasises the moderate ambition of the strategic use of design by using it at an operational level. It also includes an ill-defined structure for managing design and a lack of design capabilities. In addition, it has an unclear design process and ad hoc cross-departmental collaboration. The overall result is that the Silent Design organisations’ customer experiences are characterised by undifferentiated products and services. 3) The Strategic Design culture is identified and addresses the airlines that make good use of design. This culture emphasises the strong ambition of the strategic use of design by using it at a strategic level. It also includes a systematic and clear structure for managing design. It has a clear design process and clear cross-departmental collaboration. The overall result is that Strategic Design organisations maintain their position as innovators and differentiators within the airline industry. 4) Some recommendations are made that target how to bridge the gap between these two cultures, including appointing a design leader within a Silent Design culture airline. This would elevate the airlines’ perceptions of the strategic use of design.
Supervisor: Lam, B. ; Holland, R. Sponsor: King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Design research and methodology ; Innovation management ; Business ; Management ; Aviation