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A Stage-Wise Approach to Exploring Performance Effects of Cycle Time Reduction


  • Katrin Eling,

  • Fred Langerak,

  • Abbie Griffin

  • The authors acknowledge a division of a large industrial corporation for providing the data. They also thank the experts for their help in the grouping task.

Address correspondence to: Katrin Eling, School of Industrial Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, CNT 0.16, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, the Netherlands. E-mail: Tel: +31 40 247 3068/2170.


Research on reducing new product development (NPD) cycle time has shown that firms tend to adopt different cycle time reduction mechanisms for different process stages. However, the vast majority of previous studies investigating the relationship between new product performance and NPD cycle time have adopted a monolithic process perspective rather than looking at cycle time for the distinct stages of the NPD process (i.e., fuzzy front end, development, and commercialization). As a result, little is known about the specific effect of the cycle times of the different stages on new product performance or how they interact to influence new product performance. This study uses a stage-wise approach to NPD cycle time to test the main and interacting effects of fuzzy front end, development, and commercialization cycle times on new product performance using objective data for 399 NPD projects developed following a Stage-Gate® type of process in one firm. The results reveal that at least in this firm, new product performance only increases if all three stages of the NPD process are consistently accelerated. This finding, combined with the previous research showing that firms use different mechanisms to accelerate different stages of the process, emphasizes the need to conduct performance effect studies of NPD cycle time at the stage level rather than at the monolithic process level.