New product development in financial services companies : the role of the corporate centre
This thesis reports a study examining how the corporate centres of UK financial services companies involve themselves in product development in constituent businesses. Herein lies a key challenge for corporate managers - deciding on the appropriate balance between corporate nvolvement and granting autonomy to business units. Analysis of 16 businesses in large UK banks, building societies and insurers shows that in successful product development businesses the corporate centre becomes more intensely involved than in less successful businesses. In addition to providing expert product development advice, a corporate centre can provide leadership in the agreement of objectives based on a long-term vision of market opportunities. The results show that successful businesses are helped by their corporate centres to capitalize more fully on their entrepreneurial efforts. This is so particularly when businesses are allowed autonomy in performing operational tasks. Less successful product development businesses, on the other hand, are distinguished from winners by a distinctly different type of corporate involvement which at the extreme amount to unnecessary meddling in their affairs.