New Product Development: a Study of the Adoption, Usage and Impact of Tools Among Small High Technology Firms.
Thesis DisciplineBusiness Administration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis reports on the associations between a variety of factors related to the adoption and use of 76 well-known new product development (NPD) tools on NPD performance at the project level in small high technology firms. The specific factors of interest are determinants of tool adoption, tool diffusion, thoroughness of use, flexibility of use, tool adaptation, user familiarity with tools, and tool satisfaction. An invitation-only online survey was administered to 99 organisations fitting the criteria of this study to determine patterns of tool adoption and use. A variety of inferential statistical techniques was used to analyse the data. The results show lesser tool adoption patterns in comparison with larger firms elsewhere, with the majority of tools not used to their full potential. It furthermore provides useful insights into usage and performance attributes of tools, individually and collectively. Of significance is that a greater uptake of tools may not necessarily lead to increased NPD performance; instead, it is the degree of thoroughness of implementation that shows a direct association with performance improvements.
The survey findings were followed up with in-depth case studies of five firms to investigate and explain observed phenomena, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of tool practices at the project level. The results show that practitioners’ tool needs change during the life of a project and become more sophisticated as the firm matures. They also explain why some tools are thoroughly used, and others not.
The findings of this research have implications for both theory and practice. Theoretically, this study introduces different models and categories of tools and explains how their use can achieve a better overall understanding of tool application. Practically, the results provide managers and practitioners with several useful tool guides, benchmarking tables and models to aid in the selection and use of tools in NPD projects of any type.