This paper explores the impact on sales growth of different product development strategies, especially an approach that focuses on the coordination of multiple projects that overlap in time and share critical components. The data for our analysis comes from the automobile industry, although the principles we discuss should apply to any industry where firms compete with multiple product lines and where the sharing of components among more than one distinct product is both possible and desirable. Some firms compete by trying to develop ‘hit’ products in isolation, with little or no reuse of components or coordination with other products. Another way to compete is to leverage a firm’s investment in new technologies across as many new products as possible as quickly as possible, while the technologies are still relatively new. This paper proposes a typology that captures this effect by categorizing product development strategies into four types: new design, rapid (or concurrent) design transfer, sequential design transfer, and design modification. An analysis of 210 projects from the automobile industry between 1980 and 1991 indicates that firms utilizing the rapid design transfer strategy—quickly leveraging new platform components across multiple projects–increased sales more than when they or their competitors did not use this strategy. The study’s results suggest that not only the sharing of technology among multiple projects but also the speed of technology leveraging are important to sales growth. © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Strategic Management Journal – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1997
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