Managing Product Innovation: Volume 13


Table of contents

(10 chapters)


Pages V-VI
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In the first paper, Fredrik von Corswant offers a firm level theory of interfirm network relationships for blending resources effectively for NPD. Thick descriptions of NPD processes in three case studies in the transportation vehicle industries illustrate the theory. A key conclusion: modular product development may entail a modular organization with regard to teams and interactions between business units including entire enterprises.

This paper deals with the organizing of interactive product development. Developing products in interaction between firms may provide benefits in terms of specialization, increased innovation, and possibilities to perform development activities in parallel. However, the differentiation of product development among a number of firms also implies that various dependencies need to be dealt with across firm boundaries. How dependencies may be dealt with across firms is related to how product development is organized. The purpose of the paper is to explore dependencies and how interactive product development may be organized with regard to these dependencies.

The analytical framework is based on the industrial network approach, and deals with the development of products in terms of adaptation and combination of heterogeneous resources. There are dependencies between resources, that is, they are embedded, implying that no resource can be developed in isolation. The characteristics of and dependencies related to four main categories of resources (products, production facilities, business units and business relationships) provide a basis for analyzing the organizing of interactive product development.

Three in-depth case studies are used to explore the organizing of interactive product development with regard to dependencies. The first two cases are based on the development of the electrical system and the seats for Volvo’s large car platform (P2), performed in interaction with Delphi and Lear respectively. The third case is based on the interaction between Scania and Dayco/DFC Tech for the development of various pipes and hoses for a new truck model.

The analysis is focused on what different dependencies the firms considered and dealt with, and how product development was organized with regard to these dependencies. It is concluded that there is a complex and dynamic pattern of dependencies that reaches far beyond the developed product as well as beyond individual business units. To deal with these dependencies, development may be organized in teams where several business units are represented. This enables interaction between different business units’ resource collections, which is important for resource adaptation as well as for innovation. The delimiting and relating functions of the team boundary are elaborated upon and it is argued that also teams may be regarded as actors. It is also concluded that a modular product structure may entail a modular organization with regard to the teams, though, interaction between business units and teams is needed. A strong connection between the technical structure and the organizational structure is identified and it is concluded that policies regarding the technical structure (e.g. concerning “carry-over”) cannot be separated from the management of the organizational structure (e.g. the supplier structure). The organizing of product development is in itself a complex and dynamic task that needs to be subject to interaction between business units.

In every industry there are resources. Some are moving, others more fixed; some are technical, others social. People working with the resources, for example, as buyers or sellers, or users or producers, may not make much notice of them. A product sells. A facility functions. The business relationship in which we make our money has “always” been there. However, some times this picture of order is disturbed. A user having purchased a product for decades may “suddenly” say to the producer that s/he does not appreciate the product. And a producer having received an order of a product that s/he thought was well known, may find it impossible to sell it. Such disturbances may be ignored. Or they can be used as a platform for development. In this study we investigate the latter option, theoretically and through real world data. Concerning theory we draw on the industrial network approach. We see industrial actors as part of (industrial) networks. In their activities actors use and produce resources. Moreover, the actors interact − bilaterally and multilaterally. This leads to development of resources and networks. Through “thick” descriptions of two cases we illustrate and try to understand the interactive character of resource development and how actors do business on features of resources. The cases are about a certain type of resource, a product − goat milk. The main message to industrial actors is that they should pay attention to that products can be co-created. Successful co-creation of products, moreover, may require development also of business relationships and their connections (“networking”).

This paper illuminates the distinction between individual and organizational actors in business-to-business markets as well as the coexistence of formal and informal mechanisms of coordination in multinational corporations. The main questions addressed include the following. (1) What factors influence the occurrence of personal contacts of foreign subsidiary managers in industrial multinational corporations? (2) How such personal contacts enable coordination in industrial markets and within multinational firms? The theoretical context of the paper is based on: (1) the interaction approach to industrial markets, (2) the network approach to industrial markets, and (3) the process approach to multinational management. The unit of analysis is the foreign subsidiary manager as the focal actor of a contact network. The paper is empirically focused on Portuguese sales subsidiaries of Finnish multinational corporations, which are managed by either a parent country national (Finnish), a host country national (Portuguese) or a third country national. The paper suggests eight scenarios of individual dependence and uncertainty, which are determined by individual, organizational, and/or market factors. Such scenarios are, in turn, thought to require personal contacts with specific functions. The paper suggests eight interpersonal roles of foreign subsidiary managers, by which the functions of their personal contacts enable inter-firm coordination in industrial markets. In addition, the paper suggests eight propositions on how the functions of their personal contacts enable centralization, formalization, socialization and horizontal communication in multinational corporations.

The essential investments in new product development (NPD) made by industrial companies entail effective management of NPD activities. In this context, performance measurement is one of the means that can be employed in the pursuit of effectiveness.

This report examines strategic innovation efforts of companies in an industry displaying traits of maturity. Strategic innovation efforts intend to create superior customer value and competitive advantage. Realizing the full benefits of these efforts necessitates that companies change their view on existing relationships in the supply chain of the industry under consideration. Based on case study research in nine installation companies in the Dutch electro technical industry, we conclude that a mismatch between intended strategies and the dominant logic of these companies (and their business partners) impedes strategic innovation efforts. We thus identify barriers to strategic innovation. This report suggests strategy options that have the potential to overcome these barriers and relate these options to managerial mindsets and cognitions with respect to competitive strategy, organization and network relationships.

This paper examines three issues. First, do multiple possible paths to high versus low new product performance (NPP) occur among European, high-tech, industrial manufacturing firms? Second, what are the upstream influences on high NPP? For example, what background factors affect the levels of the KSFs? Third, do consistent country-level differences occur among Austrian, German, and Swedish executives in their evaluations of antecedents and high-tech NPP? To probe these issues, a total of 771 chief operating officers and project managers participated in face-to-face long interviews (McCracken, 1988) covering 241 less and 264 more successful than average industrial NPD projects. The empirical findings support the propositions that: (1) multiple paths lead to high versus low NPP; (2) unique antecedent variables affect the KSFs for high NPP; and (3) for several upstream and direct influences, consistent national differences occur among executives’ assessments of NPP. A key implication of the study for NPD executives is to recognize the possibility of alternative paths leading to successful NPD.

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Book series
Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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