Changing strategies and tactics for new product development

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Title: Changing strategies and tactics for new product development
Author: Ettlie, John; Subramaniam, Mohan
Abstract: There has been a considerable amount of effort and writing devoted to improving the new product development process during the last two decades. Although there have been some suprises in this literature and in reports from the field on how to manage this complex business process, we now have a good view of the state-of-the-art practices that work and do not work to accelerate commercial success of new ventures. We know much less about how firms change their strategies for new product development. In this article, we report on a study to investigate how companies change the way they originate and develop new products in manufacturing. We made no prior assumptions about what best practices might be for changing the direction of the new product development process, but we reasonably were sure there would be trends in how compaines were attempting to create this strategic change. Even though one size does not fit all, there were significant trends in our findings. We studied eight manufacturing firms using in-depth, open-ended interviews and were suprised to find that most of these companies are beginning to develop products that are new to the firm, industry, and the world (nearly half, or 10 of 21 new product projects), where they had not been eager for radical change in the past. These newer products likely are to be driven by a combination of market and technology forces, with general requirements being directed by internal forces: middle and top management. Results also indicate significantly that being able to marshal resources and capabilities is easier if change is less demanding and less radical, but when middle managers are driving the conversion of general requirements into specifications, resource issues have yet to be resolved. Implications of these findings are discussed for comapnies aspiring to change the entire process of new product development in their firms based on these significant results.
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Date: 2004-03

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