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The fuzzy front end and success of new product development: a causal model

Qingyu Zhang (Qingyu Zhang is Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Decision Sciences, Arkansas State University, Arkansas, USA.)
William J. Doll (William J. Doll is Professor of Management, The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA.)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 1 June 2001



While managers and researchers agree that the fuzzy front end of new product development (NPD) is critical for project success, the meaning of the term “front‐end fuzziness” remains vague. It is often used broadly to refer to both the exogenous causes and the internal consequences of fuzziness. This imprecise language makes it difficult for managers to separate cause and effect and thus identify specific prescriptive remedies for “fuzziness” problems. The vagueness of the concept and the lack of a framework for defining “front‐end fuzziness” also impede empirical research efforts. Building upon uncertainty theory, we define front‐end fuzziness in terms of environmental uncertainties. Front‐end fuzziness has consequences for a project’s team vision. It reduces the team’s sense of shared purpose and causes unclear project targets and priorities. Describes how foundation elements of a firm’s overall product development program can help project teams cope with front‐end fuzziness.



Zhang, Q. and Doll, W.J. (2001), "The fuzzy front end and success of new product development: a causal model", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 95-112.




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