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Low‐tech, small‐ and medium‐sized enterprises and the practice of new product development: An international comparison

Martti Lindman (University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)
Barbara Scozzi (Politecnico di Bari, Bari, Italy)
Carmen Otero‐Neira (University of Vigo, Vigo, Spain)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 18 January 2008



The purpose of this study is to examine the new product management practices adopted by low‐tech small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) in the context of design‐intensive products.


The results are based on a multi‐case comparative setting covering SMEs in furniture industry in three countries, Italy, Spain and Finland.


The study shows considerable differences in performance that occur in terms of the degree of design and innovation, goal orientation and the systematics by which a single furniture business is managed. Proactiveness and freedom in design and innovation together with systematic new product development (NPD) and goal orientation enhances NPD performance. As to the new product uniqueness, innovative design is applicable in furniture industry much as in a similar way as new technological knowledge is in technology industries. The management education and/or interests which are closely related to furniture design and decoration have a clear impact on the level up to which innovative designs are implemented.

Practical implications

The study has direct implications for furniture companies aiming at improving their competitiveness and NPD effectiveness. The study points out the importance of creating a proper innovative culture and being open to new ideas if export markets are targeted.


Technology intensive products in large‐ and medium‐sized companies have been the main focus of NPD performance research, also facing the risk of over‐generalization due to cross‐industry approaches. Low‐tech industries however play a major role as to national income and employment. In this respect the present study aims to highlight the prevailing NPD practices in small design‐intensive firms in the furniture industry by reporting any management gaps which may occur in terms of new product performance.



Lindman, M., Scozzi, B. and Otero‐Neira, C. (2008), "Low‐tech, small‐ and medium‐sized enterprises and the practice of new product development: An international comparison", European Business Review, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 51-72.



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