Journal article

There is more to market learning than gathering good information: The role of shared team values in radical product definition

User feedback is vital to a radical new product development (NPD) effort. However, shared team values (beliefs and possibly ideology) determine whether a development team will act on user feedback. This paper addresses this important issue by investigating the interaction between internal team values and external market feedback or information in radical projects. The underlying logic in investigating NPD team values is that, although user feedback is vital to a radical NPD effort, shared team values may well influence whether a development team will act on user feedback regardless of the team's competences in collecting, integrating, and assimilating the information acquired. Previous research has considered how exploratory market learning processes moderate market and technological uncertainty in radical product development. Scholars argue that NPD teams may increase the chances of success of radically new projects by acquiring, assimilating, and implementing new information from market feedback. They assume that managers and NPD teams' ability to make sound choices along the NPD process and increase learning depends on quality and quantity of information acquired from user feedback. The more and better information acquired, the easier it will be for the team to assimilate and implement it with clear benefits for the NPD project. Therefore, extant research has led to a deeper understanding of what information is important for exploratory market learning. It has not tackled, however, how information is assimilated by the NPD team and to what extent the information from the market is implemented. Given the exploratory nature of the research objective, a longitudinal participant-observation case study research is adopted, in which during a two-year period a radical project development in the mobility field was investigated. During this period, the NPD team adopted various and sophisticated market research techniques to acquire user feedback from the design to the prototype and test phase. These units of information were collected, and the extent to which shared team values influence the process through which user feedback was assimilated, implemented, and used was analyzed. The findings suggest that information assimilation is not automatic but rather influenced in interesting ways by internal team values. The findings imply that shared team values act as a selective assimilation mechanism determining whether a development team will act on user feedback. Furthermore, the type of information (e.g., functional vs. conceptual feedback) processed by the development team acts as a moderating factor on the relationship between the team values and information processing. In conclusion, this paper highlights how one of the mechanisms for information selection is based on team values and the type of information presented to the team. The topic of selective assimilation and use in exploratory market learning is an important topic worthy of further research. It is important for academic researchers because it provides a better description of how radical product development projects evolve. It is important for managers because awareness of biases and the existence of selective assimilation may lead to better product development outcomes.


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