Assessing factors that predict new product success (NPS) holds critical importance for companies, as research shows that despite considerable new product investment, success rates are generally below 25%. Over the decades, meta-analytical attempts have been made to summarize empirical findings on NPS factors. However, market environment changes such as increased global competition, as well as methodological advancements in meta-analytical research, present a timely opportunity to augment their results. Hence, a key objective of this research is to provide an updated and extended meta-analytic investigation of the factors affecting NPS.
Using Henard and Szymanski's meta-analysis as the most comprehensive recent summary of empirical findings, this study updates their findings by analyzing articles published from 1999 through 2011, the period following the original meta-analysis. Based on 233 empirical studies (from 204 manuscripts) on NPS, with a total 2618 effect sizes, this study also takes advantage of more recent methodological developments by re-calculating effects of the meta-analysis employing a random effects model. The study's scope broadens by including overlooked but important additional variables, notably “country culture,” and discusses substantive differences between the updated meta-analysis and its predecessor.
Results reveal generally weaker effect sizes than those reported by Henard and Szymanski in 2001, and provide evolutionary evidence of decreased effects of common success factors over time. Moreover, culture emerges as an important moderating factor, weakening effect sizes for individualistic countries and strengthening effects for risk-averse countries, highlighting the importance of further investigating culture's role in product innovation studies, and of tracking changes of success factors of product innovations. Finally, a sharp increase since 1999 in studies investigating product and process characteristics identifies a significant shift in research interest in new product development success factors.
The finding that the importance of success factors generally declines over time calls for new theoretical approaches to better capture the nature of new product development (NPD) success factors. One might speculate that the potential to create competitive advantages through an understanding of NPD success factors is reduced as knowledge of these factors becomes more widespread among managers. Results also imply that managers attempting to improve success rates of NPDs need to consider national culture as this factor exhibits a strong moderating effect: Working in varied cultural contexts will result in differing antecedents of successful new product ventures.