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Information Processing Problems: A comparative study of the Front End of new product development within radical and incremental projects
Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science, Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL).
Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science, Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL).
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The first phase of new product development (NPD) is today commonly referred to as the Front End (FE) of NPD. The phase has received a decent amount of attention during the recent years, nevertheless insufficient considering its ability to influence a project’s outcome. The phase begins when an idea is born, and ends when a formal meeting decides whether to invest in the idea or not. The investment then leads the project to enter a formal phase. During the FE, a large number of issues occur, which are believed to be the result of deficient processing of information. If the issues are not managed correctly, the NPD procedure will not be efficient. When information is being processed into knowledge, sometimes an uncertain, equivocal, or complex situation arises, which leads to delays, additional costs, and wasted efforts. These information processing problems (IPPs) need to be managed by firms in order to reduce their negative repercussions. Depending on a firm’s perception of the novelty towards a product, the project is considered to be either radical or incremental. Depending on that novelty, it is theorized that the IPPs will have different dispersions, and pose differently significant challenges to the project. The aim of this study is therefore to investigate the differences of the significance and dispersion of the IPPs, during the FE, when comparing radical and incremental NPD projects.

For this purpose, a case study approach was deemed appropriate. In order to collect data concerning the IPPs, seven case studies were conducted. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews, with respondents that possess' an extensive experience from working with NPD within Swedish firms.

The data analysis from the seven interviews proved that indeed there is a difference in how the IPPs vary, dependent on whether the project is of a radical or incremental nature. All the IPPs showed higher levels of significance in the FE in radical projects, than in incremental ones. Uncertainty proved to be the IPP that differed the most and therefore possessed the greatest significance difference. This means that differentiated approaches in radical respective incremental projects are needed in order to reduce uncertainty. Equivocality represented the IPP with the least difference in significance, meaning that the FE in radical and incremental projects require rather similar design in how to prevent equivocal problems. By understanding the differences in dispersion and significance, one can create differentiated management approaches during the FE, that fit the level of novelty of the product at hand. For some products, preventive actions must be taken to a larger degree compared to others. By doing so, the lead time of the FE can be shortened as less problems will arise, creating a faster and smoother process. The resources saved could be spent on improving activities, instead of being wasted on repairing unnecessary problems. The study contributes to the research field of NPD by adding newknowledge, aiding the collective effort of increasing firm’s proficiency in how to manage the FE.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 71 p.
Keyword [en]
Uncertainty, equivocality, complexity, new product development, Front End of new product development, Front End of Innovation, information processing problems
Keyword [sv]
Kunskapsproblem, Informationsproblem, ny produktutveckling, osäkerhet, komplexitet, tvetydighet, innovation
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-30019OAI: diva2:882105
Subject / course
Strategic Management
2015-05-25, Kristian IV:s väg 3, Halmstad, 22:49 (English)
Available from: 2015-12-14 Created: 2015-12-13 Last updated: 2015-12-14Bibliographically approved

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