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Challenges in fuzzy front end of new product development within medium-sized enterprises: A case study on Swedish manufacturing firms
Halmstad University, School of Business and Engineering (SET).
Halmstad University, School of Business and Engineering (SET).
2010 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The business environment is changing rapidly, becoming very competitive and challenging for all firms, and particularly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). As innovation and new product development represent valuable sources for SMEs’ future sustainability and development, making these processes more effective is essential. Previous literature, with the focus on large firms, underlined the importance of efficiently managing the early period of new product development (NPD), as this can reduce the product’s time to market and increase its performance. For this reason, contributing to a developed understanding of the challenges of medium-sized firms in managing this phase, the fuzzy front-end (FFE) of NPD, is the aim of this study.

The theoretical framework of this study combines prior theories that relate to the difficulties, shortcomings, challenges that SMEs meet during the whole NPD process, including FFE, and theories that resulted from research on FFE in large firms. The structure is based on four elements referring to managing the idea generation process, new product development team, evaluation of product concept feasibility, and the organization of FFE.

A qualitative strategy and a research design with two case studies on high-tech, medium-sized manufacturing firms were used in reaching the purpose of this study. This methodology choice reflects the explorative purpose of this research. The empirical data are mainly primary data, collected during three interviews with development managers and a product developer, completed as well with secondary data like general company information, collected from companies’ websites.

The analysis of empirical findings revealed some relevant conclusions, which can bring value to the research area, and also to the practice. Our findings show that lack of communication with customers during the whole FFE phase, collecting limited or inaccurate information to be processed during this phase, finding the right formalization degree of FFE activities, determining the complexity of the product concept, and assessing external technology and expertise, represent the main challenges faced by medium-sized firms in the FFE of NPD.

The study’s practical relevance consists in the advices and solutions suggested to managers for overcoming the challenges of the FFE phase and improving their results in the development projects. The theoretical implications reflect the importance of organizational size variable in association with the challenges of FFE.

The sample of only two cases and the quality of the empirical data collected from two high-tech Swedish manufacturing firms which have a large focus on innovation are the main limitations of this study, as these medium-sized firms have gained some experience to face the specific challenges of FFE of NPD and the data they provide may be influenced by this aspect.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010.
Keywords [en]
fuzzy front-end, new product development, small and medium-sized enterprises, innovation
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-4982OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-4982DiVA, id: diva2:326454
Uppsok
Technology
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2010-06-30 Created: 2010-06-23 Last updated: 2010-06-30Bibliographically approved

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