We develop a conceptual model of new product development (NPD) based on seminal and review articles in order to answer the question, “What project management characteristics will foster the development of new products that are more likely to survive in the marketplace?” Our model adopts Ruekert and Walker's theoretical framework of situational dimensions, structural/process dimensions, and outcome dimensions as an underlying structure. We conceptualize their situational dimensions more narrowly as project management dimensions, allowing us to examine more specifically how project management practices affect the NPD process. In our model, project management dimensions include project manager style, project manager skills, and senior management support. Structural/process dimensions include cross-functional integration and planning proficiency. Outcome dimensions include process proficiency and new product survival.
Our empirical analysis finds support for 20 hypotheses, a reversal of one hypothesis, and nonsignificant results for one hypothesis. These results show that projects are best led by managers with strong technical, marketing, and management skills, using a participative style and enjoying early and continuous support from senior management. These project management dimensions promote cross-functional integration and planning, which are important to process proficiency and new product survival.
Our study suggests two broad conclusions. First, it confirms the links in the extant literature between situational (project management) dimensions, structural/process dimensions, and outcome dimensions in NPD. Second, firms can improve cross-functional integration and planning through various project management practices. Generally, we find that firms interested in improving both proficiency in their development process and the survival rate of new products should take steps to promote cross-functional integration and to improve their planning processes. While the linkage between cross-functional integration and NPD outcomes is well established in the literature, the impact of the planning process on NPD outcomes is a research area ripe with opportunity. Our study highlights three aspects of planning that contribute to NPD outcomes. Plans should be detailed, team members should participate actively in the planning process, and teams should be given flexibility and autonomy to respond to unanticipated issues as they appear.