Uncertainty about the ability for technological knowledge to be transformed to meet market demands, lack of complementary technologies, the lack of developed markets for a given technical feature, and other types of uncertainty add significant challenges to organizations as they develop products for future markets. In spite of these significant challenges, some organizations develop a dynamic capability in new product development that becomes a powerful source of competitive advantage and a source of renewal, growth, and adaptation as the environment changes. Many approaches to new product development (e.g., cross-functional development teams, quality function deployment, early supplier involvement, heavyweight product development teams) address the need to integrate knowledge more rapidly and effectively within projects. These approaches do not address, however, how knowledge is integrated over time or how integration of knowledge from previous new product development efforts influences the firm's new product development performance. This study focuses on providing a greater understanding of the integrative practices that contribute to this capability in new product development. Based on insights from the innovation and learning literatures, this study proposes relationships about the influence of knowledge retention and interpretation activities on the organization's ability to integrate knowledge developed in prior new product development projects and on new product development performance. Data collected from a sample of new product development professionals are employed to test the proposed relationships among knowledge retention, knowledge interpretation, integration of prior knowledge, and new product development performance. The findings suggest that knowledge retention and interpretation activities positively impact a firm's new product development performance. In particular, practices that enable the retention and interpretation of knowledge improve new product development performance indirectly through the firm's enhanced ability to apply knowledge developed in prior product development projects to subsequent projects. Practices that enable the interpretation of knowledge in the firm's current strategic context also improve new product development performance directly. These findings lead to important implications for managing new product development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation