Industrial new product planning : a study of the sources of new product ideas and the development of new product proposals in the UK computer industry
This thesis presents a study of the sources of new product ideas and the development of new product proposals in an organisation in the UK Computer Industry. The thesis extends the work of von Hippel by showing how the phenomenon which he describes as "the Customer Active Paradigm for new product idea generation" can be observed to operate in this Industry. Furthermore, this thesis contrasts his Customer Active Paradigm with the more usually encountered Manufacturer Active Paradigm. In a second area, the thesis draws a number of conclusions relating to methods of market research, confirming existing observations and demonstrating the suitability of flexible interview strategies in certain circumstances. The thesis goes on to demonstrate the importance of free information flow within the organisation, making it more likely that sought and unsought opportunities can be exploited. It is shown that formal information flows and documents are a necessary but not sufficient means of influencing the formation of the organisation's dominant ideas on new product areas. The findings also link the work of Tushman and Katz on the role of "Gatekeepers" with the work of von Hippel by showing that the role of gatekeeper is particularly appropriate and useful to an organisation changing from Customer Active to Manufacturer Active methods of idea generation. Finally, the thesis provides conclusions relating to the exploitation of specific new product opportunities facing the sponsoring organisation.