Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 153–184 | Cite as

Perspectives on iteration in design and development

  • David C. WynnEmail author
  • Claudia M. Eckert
Original Paper


Design, development, and other projects inevitably involve iteration. Iteration has positive effects, such as enabling progressive generation of knowledge, enabling concurrency, and integrating necessary changes, but it also increases duration and cost of a project. Managing iteration is thus an important issue in practice, but can be challenging due in part to a profusion of issues and terminologies. This article contributes a literature summary and integrating taxonomy to clarify the different perspectives on iteration. It brings together insights into iteration gained from different research communities (mainly design and product development, alongside selected work in construction management and software project management) and different research approaches (including conceptual frameworks, mathematical and simulation models, case studies and surveys, and protocol studies). By differentiating the issues and providing a uniform terminology, the article maps insights developed to date and may help situate future analyses of iterative processes.


Iteration Design and development Literature review Integrating taxonomy 



The authors gratefully acknowledge John Clarkson, Nam Le, and other collaborators for discussions and feedback on the topic of design process iteration. We also thank the Editor and anonymous reviewers whose insightful comments helped to improve the manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag London 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Engineering and InnovationThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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