During the past 20 years, numerous studies have explored the R&D—marketing interface and its role in the new product development (NPD) process. Academics and practitioners (including a PDMA task force) have examined commonly used measures of success, the underlying reasons for the success or failure of NPD projects, and the effects of R&D—marketing integration on both project- and company-level success. Does this mean we have all the answers when it comes to ensuring the necessary level of cooperation and interaction between R&D and marketing? Of course not.
Abbie Griffin and John R. Hauser note that prior research on R&D—marketing integration is being reassessed in light of the movement toward flatter organizational structures and cross-functional teams. To facilitate that reassessment, and to help guide future research in this area, they review recent research on the methods employed for integrating R&D and marketing, and they propose several hypotheses regarding those methods. They present their review and hypotheses within the framework of a causal map they have developed for studying functional integration.
The causal map links cooperation to NPD success along situational dimensions, structural and process dimensions, and outcome dimensions. The desired outcome in any NPD effort is the timely commercialization of a profitable product. The situational dimensions address the amount and types of integration needed in a project, which depend on such factors as the project phase and the level of project uncertainty. The structural and process dimensions focus on the actions taken to achieve functional integration. These include relocation and physical facilities design, personnel movement, informal social systems, organizational structures, incentives and rewards, and formal integrative management processes.
The proposed hypotheses focus on the methods for achieving functional integration—that is, the structural and process dimensions of the causal map. At first glance, these hypotheses seem to state the obvious. For example, few would challenge the notion that quality function deployment eliminates barriers to functional integration and improves information sharing between functions. However, achieving those benefits requires the presence of other factors such as senior management involvement. Rather than examine these hypotheses separately, researchers should explore the relative merits of the methods for achieving functional integration. In other words, future research must consider both the situational and the structural and process dimensions of this framework.