Characteristics of a successful new product development process for UK automotive component suppliers
While previous research describes a broad set of factors that discriminate between new product success and failure, both the study findings and the models developed have tended to be very general. This has made it difficult for those involved in NPD to apply the lessons presented - "they are unable to relate them directly to their own situation" (Craig & Hart, 1992: 38). However, the way companies undertake the process activities during the development and launch of a new product has regularly been identified as being critical to the outcome of the NPD project (Booz et al, 1982; Cooper, 1979,1980,1990; Crawford, 1984; Maidique & Zirger, 1984). This research fills a gap in the literature by explicitly focusing on the internal NPD process activities and project organisation within one industry, the Automotive Components Industry. The contribution of the research is to identify the critical success factors for the NPD process within Automotive Component firms, confirm whether different dimensions of success exist for this industry and identify whether the antecedents of successful NPD differ depending on the dimensions of success. A model was developed, which was then tested using a six page postal questionnaire sent out to UK automotive component suppliers. 76 completed questionnaires were collected from 66 firms. After a careful reliability and validity analysis of the measures used in the survey, a multiple regression analysis was undertaken to identify the critical success factors for each of the dimensions of success. The findings from this research validate many ideas presented in the NPD literature. However, what is evident from this research is that new product success dimensions can not be treated together, and that average models can be misleading. This may well have made it difficult for practitioners to relate the findings of previous studies to their specific development situations and could begin to explain why, despite all the research that has been undertaken in this area, failure rates are still so high.