We report on an empirical investigation of product development in an environment characterized by discontinuous technological change. Our sample is composed of field-based observations on 27 projects and 61 technical problem solving attempts by all leading organizations developing high performance mainframe computers. Different organizations attained very different levels of R & D performance, as indicated by development lead time, R & D productivity and technical product improvement. We show that the differences in performance are correlated with skills and routines aimed at technology integration. High project performance is linked to a broad approach to resolving critical problems, merging deep technical knowledge with a detailed understanding of the specific environment in which the new technologies would be applied. Effective organizations are characterized by a ‘system focused’ approach. The approach involves an emphasis on project specification and concept development, a number of specific routines that probe the systemic impact of technical options on the existing capabilities of the organization, as well as the retention of individuals with direct experience of related product introduction efforts.
Research Policy – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 1995
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