Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Member

Joshua D. Summers, Committee Chair

Committee Member

M. Laine Mears

Committee Member

Cameron J. Turner


Two tools for assessing external knowledge absorption maturity were developed during Part 1 of this research based upon the work of a previous researcher. The first of these tools assesses the maturity of a single organization, or actor. The second tool assesses the maturity of the collaborative innovation network that actor is a part of. Each tool produces a maturity profile for that actor or network which can then be used to inform innovation strategy decision making. An actor maturity assessment tool had been developed in previous research, however it did not consider how important evaluation criteria were to the individual being evaluated. To address this, a literature review was conducted to identify importance weight elicitation and score aggregation methods. The findings were then used to further develop this actor assessment tool and create a new network assessment tool. Revised Simos’ method (SRF) for weight elicitation and normalization was used for determining the importance weights of evaluation criteria of actors. The Weighted Sum Model (WSM) was then used to calculate aggregate dimension scores which are used to create maturity profiles for that actor. The network assessment tool then finds the importance of those actors to their networks based on the criticality of the roles they play and their level of involvement in those roles. It was decided that the criticality of actor roles should be determined using pairwise comparison while the level of involvement an actor had in those roles could be found using point allocation. The theoretical validity and limitations of these methods were then analyzed. Finally, the functionality of the actor tool was improved and validated through usability testing and user feedback. After deciding that the usability concerns within the actor assessment tool were too great, the tool’s development down that path was stopped. The goal of the research then shifted to identifying usability recommendations so that similarly developed decision aid tools would reach implementation. It was predicted that the lack of conciseness in the instructions of the methods developed in Part 1 of this work were significant contributors to its lack of usability. Two versions of the actor assessment tool were then developed, one which was concise and one which was non-concise. Six think-aloud studies were conducted for each tool which explored conciseness’ effect on five attributes of usability: (1) efficiency, (2) effectiveness, (3) satisfaction, (4) learnability, and (5) usefulness. It was later discovered that conciseness may have an effect on non-native speaker’s ability to use instructions. It was also suspected that conciseness may have an effect on perceived workload. Based on the findings from these studies a list of recommendations was made to help future academic developers of decision aid tools to better account for usability in hopes that they get to have the satisfaction of their research reaching implementation.



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