New Product Development: Impact of Project Characteristics and Development Practices on Performance


  • Sohel Ahmad,

  • Debasish N. Mallick,

  • Roger G. Schroeder

  • This research project was partially funded by research grants from St. Cloud State University and the University of St. Thomas.

Address correspondence to: Debasish N. Mallick, Department of Operations & Supply Chain Management, Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas, 1000 La Salle Avenue #SCH 435, Minneapolis, MN 55403. E-mail: Tel: 651-962-4144.


Concurrent product development process and integrated product development teams have emerged as the two dominant new product development (NPD) “best practices” in the literature. Yet empirical evidence of their impact on product development success remains inconclusive. This paper draws upon organizational information processing theory (OIPT) to explore how these two dominant NPD best practices and two key aspects of NPD project characteristics (i.e., project uncertainty and project complexity) directly and jointly affect the NPD performance. Contrary to the “best practice” literature, the analysis, based on 266 NPD projects from three industries (i.e., automotive, electronics, and machinery) across nine countries (i.e., Austria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United States), found no evidence of any direct impact of process concurrency or team integration on overall NPD performance. Instead, there is evidence of negative impact of the interaction between project uncertainty and concurrent NPD process and positive impact of the interaction between project complexity and team integration on overall NPD performance. Moreover, the study found no evidence of any direct negative impact of project uncertainty or complexity on overall NPD performance as suggested in the literature, but found evidence of a direct positive relationship between project complexity and overall NPD performance.

The practical implications of these results are significant. First, neither process concurrency nor team integration should be embraced universally as best practice. Second, process concurrency should be avoided in projects with high uncertainty (i.e., when working with unfamiliar product, market, or technology). Finally, team integration should be encouraged for complex product development projects. For a simple product a loosely integrated team or a more centralized decision process may work well. However, as project complexity increases, team integration becomes essential for improved product development. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing NPD projects. The choice of a product development practice should be determined by the project characteristics.