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All experience is not created equal: learning, adapting, and focusing in product portfolio management


  • J.P. Eggers

    Corresponding author
    1. Stern School of Business, New York University, New York, New York, U.S.A.
    • New York University, Stern School of Business Department of Management and Organizations, 40 West 4th Street, Tisch 715, New York, NY 10012, U.S.A.
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This study explores the contingencies relating firm experience to product development capabilities, focusing on experience type (breadth versus depth) and timing (prior versus concurrent). Results from empirical tests in the U.S. mutual fund industry offer two primary findings. First, firms increase proficiency at adapting their processes to address new opportunities as they accumulate experience in entering new niches, but face initial hurdles broadening their experience base. Second, concurrent learning is capacity constrained, as product quality increases in the number of products introduced simultaneously in one niche, but quality decreases as the firm's concurrent portfolio of new products broadens. Jointly, these findings highlight that dynamic capabilities are built through prior adaptation experience and that management of a product development portfolio is an important managerial capability. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.