The Construction of the Hybrid Package: Evolution of Product Concepts and Production Concepts Through Experiments with Artefacts

Meri Jalonen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


This dissertation examines the innovation process of a hybrid package for food products as a bundle of practices, which engage both human and non-human actors. Despite the acknowledgement of the significance of integrated product and process development to innovation, the understanding of the interdependency between the development of products and production remains limited. To explore the intertwined trajectories of the product, production technology and production practices over time, the study draws on a practice-based approach to innovation. The study develops a relational approach to the analysis of the role of artefacts in collaboration and proposes using boundary object as an umbrella term for artefacts that mediate collaborative work. The study suggests that artefacts perform as boundary objects through mediating functions, which artefacts acquire as part of a practice. The study follows the development of the hybrid package and its production practices by analysing qualitative data that cover a period of eight years. The data originate from a research collaboration with a recently founded business unit of a paper company and they include interviews, observations and workshops. The study produces three main findings. First, boundary objects shaped the innovation process of the hybrid package in four ways. They attracted partners to join the collaboration, facilitated the development of the product's properties through collaborative and autonomous work, enabled the transfer of work tasks without direct communication between people and transformed the course of action through resistance. Second, the study identifies 11 mediating functions of boundary objects, which evolved from the mediation of communication to the mediation of experimentation practices over the course of a product development process. Third, the study demonstrates the intertwined evolution of the properties of the product and its production practices over time. The study provides new insight into the interaction between product development and production in the innovation process. The study demonstrates how engagements of humans and artefacts produced the properties of the hybrid package and created its manufacturing technology, organised the development process and resulted in the establishment of a business unit. The study bridges the innovation and the operations management literature by illustrating interdependencies of the trajectories of product concepts and production concepts. The study contributes to the literature on the roles of artefacts in collaboration demonstrating the multifunctional and transformative nature of boundary objects.
Translated title of the contributionHybridipakkauksen rakentaminen: Tuotekonseptien ja tuotantokonseptien kehittyminen artefaktien kokeellisen kehittämisen kautta
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Vartiainen, Matti, Supervising Professor
  • Kerosuo, Hannele, Thesis Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6845-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6846-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • boundary object
  • artefact
  • product concept
  • production concept
  • practice
  • action research
  • ethnography
  • innovation
  • product development
  • production


Dive into the research topics of 'The Construction of the Hybrid Package: Evolution of Product Concepts and Production Concepts Through Experiments with Artefacts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this