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Title: New product development within small-medium sized enterprises : innovation report
Author: Udeh, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 8309
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2012
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Innovation is of increasing importance for raising the productivity, competitiveness and growth potential of modern economies (BIS 2010). New products are a form of innovation and New Product Development (NPD) is the term used to describe the innovation process of commercialising a new product idea. Due to the nature of innovation small-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) produce, typically ‘novel’ new-to-the world offerings that provide the highest potential contribution to the economy and businesses themselves, there is an increasing emphasis on NPD within SMEs. Despite this, there is a gap between existing knowledge of the requirements of success and their application in practice. Furthermore, there is increasing recognition within the literature that the process of innovation requires on-going maintenance, disciplined audit and renewal (Leonard-Barton 1995). SMEs in particular are finding the implementation of NPD success factors challenging(Humphreys, McAdam et al. 2005; Owens 2007) and there are limited in-depth studies on how this is achieved in practice. The research provides an understanding of the challenges SMEs face in adopting NPD success factors and develops an approach to overcome these challenges and support sustained success. The research consists of two cycles of action research involving active engagement within two independent SME contexts. The first cycle provided practical insights into challenges including factors relating to: people, process, politics and technology within SMEs. As a result the research focus was refined to consider learning as a mechanism to support the implementation and the renewal of successful NPD practices. A new model is developed, namely Logical Learning, which facilitates the development of: knowledge, skills and attitude within SMEs, for this purpose. The second cycle of action research developed a unique NPD programme that implemented the Logical Learning model within SMEs. Moreover, a comprehensive and rigorous framework for learning evaluation is developed and formally validated the significance of the model. Evidence has been generated that links the application of the model to learning within SMEs, learning to changes in behaviour and NPD practices, and changes in behaviour to organisation results. Logical Learning was initially applied through a regional programme in the West Midlands, UK, which supported innovation within SMEs. Following success over an 18 month period, the programme competed for and won a national contract to continue to deliver this support. Therefore a nationwide roll-out is currently planned. The implementation of the model has impacted on the commercial success of SMEs, so far resulting in 8 new product introductions to market. These product innovations have generated actual sales of between £50,000 and £14 million within individual SMEs for the period 2011-2012, with businesses forecasting significant increases of over 400% in the year ahead. Collectively these SMEs have generated 93 additional jobs within the West Midlands, which contribute to economic development within the UK. Additionally the SMEs have developed NPD capabilities including the implementation of more formalised approaches and effective resource management. Moreover, these SMEs report further business development achievements including establishing partnerships with marketleading organisations, international distribution agreements and further private investment to support business growth. The research proves how learning is at the heart of these achievements and provides a new perspective on how it is facilitated, to successfully improve: knowledge, skills and attitudes and ensure SMEs are better equipped to sustain NPD success.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) (EP/G049971/1)
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Eng.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor ; HF Commerce