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Firm newness, product novelty and aesthetic failure

André O. Laplume (School of Business and Economics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA)
Manish K. Srivastava (School of Business and Economics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to examine product failures in the consumer technology products industry to explain why some firms experience more aesthetic-related failures than others.


The study uses a unique data set of failed high technology consumer products identified by expert product reviewers of 75 online magazines during 2000-2010. The variables are constructed using two coders as well as using an automated content analysis process based on the information provided in the online product reviews. The study tests a hypothesis using multilevel logistic regression techniques on a sample of 606 product reviews of 323 products associated with 171 firms.


The study demonstrates that older firms are much more susceptible than younger firms to suffer from aesthetic-related product failures when they pursue product innovations that are new for them. Likewise, older firms suffer fewer aesthetics-related product failures than younger firms when they exploit products that well known to them.


The study is highly novel in its research setting and empirical approach, and brings valuable insights for researchers and managers regarding challenges associated with aesthetic innovations for young and old firms.



The authors would like to thank Junhong Min (School of Business and Economics, Michigan Tech, MI, USA) and Etayankara (Murli) Muralidharan (St Ambrose University, Iowa, USA) for their comments and feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript. The authors also thank the attendees of the round paper session at the 2013 Academy of Management Meeting for their comments and helping the authors to refine the paper.


O. Laplume, A. and K. Srivastava, M. (2014), "Firm newness, product novelty and aesthetic failure", Management Decision, Vol. 52 No. 10, pp. 1952-1967.



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