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The Impact of Product Portfolio Strategy on Financial Performance: The Roles of Product Development and Market Entry Decisions


  • Wooseong Kang,

  • Mitzi Montoya

Address correspondence to: Wooseong Kang, Department of Management, Dongguk University-Seoul, Seoul 100-715, Korea. E-mail: Tel: +82-2-2260-3237.


Innovation is one of the most important issues facing business today. The major difficulty in managing innovation is that managers must do so against a constantly shifting backdrop as technologies, competitors, and markets constantly evolve. Managers determine the product portfolio through key decisions about product development and market entry. Key strategic questions are what portfolio strategies provide the greatest reward. The purpose of this study is to understand the relative financial values of each component of a product portfolio. Specifically, the paper examines the short-term and long-term financial impacts of product development strategy and market entry strategy. These strategies reflect two critical tensions that must be balanced in product portfolio decision making and essentially determine a firm's product portfolio. In doing so, the paper also investigates how a firm's capabilities drive each component of a product portfolio.

From the empirical analyses in the context of the biomedical device industry, the paper found important insights regarding product portfolio strategies. First, a large product portfolio helps a firm's financial performance. In particular, the pioneering new products have strongest impacts on short-term performances, and nonpioneering mature products do not provide significant contribution. Second, the results indicate a persistent first-mover advantage. The first-to-market new products yield not only an immediate effect, but also persistent long-term effects, suggesting that it is important to be first in the market even though there may be short-term losses. Third, the results suggest the need to balance between “mature” and “new” products. Also, firms need to balance “first-to-market” and “late-entered” products. Because a new or pioneering product requires more resource, it may hurt other products in the portfolio. Thus, without support from mature or follower products, new products and pioneering products alone may not increase firm sales or profit. Fourth, from a long-term perspective, the paper found that the financial market only rewards a firm's overall capability to deliver new products first in the marketplace. Thus, short-term performance is mainly driven by product-level innovativeness, whereas firm-level innovativeness enhances forward-looking long-term performance. Fifth, the paper also found that pioneering new products are driven by integrating both primary and complementary technological capabilities. And nonpioneering new products are mainly driven by the capabilities in primary technology domain. These results provide important insight into the relative value and timing of return on investment in radical versus incremental innovation and alternative market entry strategies. By understanding the performance trade-offs of these different factors in the short and long term, one can develop better guidelines for optimizing innovation strategies, and their dependence on both external and internal environmental conditions.