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Front End of Innovation

Part 5. Product Innovation and Management

  1. Peter Koen,
  2. Heidi Bertels

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem05022

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Koen, P. and Bertels, H. 2010. Front End of Innovation. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 5.

Author Information

  1. Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


The front end of innovation or what has often been referred to as the fuzzy front end is the first part of the innovation process. Considerable research has been published in both academic and practitioner journals on the new-product development process, which occurs after the front end. In contrast, much less research has focused on the front end. We discuss nascent empirical studies and put them in an exploitation and exploration framework. Exploitation refers to a more incremental development, while exploration refers to a more radical development. Exploitation practices follow a well-practiced routine, which is typically thought of as consisting of three activities: discovery, scoping, and building a business case. In this article, we propose a more holistic model and include the companies' organizational resources (i.e., strategy, vision, and climate) as antecedent to the front-end activities. Empirical studies concentrating on exploitative front activities mostly have converging findings, although the necessity of having a well-conceived business plan is not per se confirmed in more recent studies. Practices in the front end for exploration projects are significantly different from those for exploitation projects due to the large amount of market and/or technology uncertainty. An understanding of how to manage the front end for exploration projects is just beginning to emerge. As such, we have provided a review of the relevant studies and have woven them into a model that uses a more iterative process than that used to explain exploitation projects.


  • exploitation;
  • exploration;
  • front end of innovation;
  • fuzzy front end;
  • predevelopment Stage-GateTM;
  • value network