Full citation

Koners, U., & Goffin, K. (2007). Learning From Postproject Reviews: A Cross-Case Analysis. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 24(3), 242-258.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: A review of the existing literature on postproject reviews within new product development found few empirical studies. An exploratory study is done with five manufacturing firms in Germany who conduct postproject reviews. Using previously published descriptions of postproject reviews, this study collected data from the companies via documents, interviews and observation of actual postproject reviews. Key insights were highlighted in the present article.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Federal lab, Government, Large business, Small business (less than 500 employees), University

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Manufacturers, Researchers

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary Findings


  • The results indicate that metaphors and stories form an important part of Postproject Review discussions and are used — consciously or subconsciously — to stimulate or to summarize key points. They also appear to enable the transfer of knowledge on complex technological points by making the discussions understandable to those without detailed knowledge.
    Case Study  — Researcher's analysis of interviews, documents and observations.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 9.3
  • Many factors can influence the utility of postproject reviews. For example, if they are held too late there is a risk that key learning points will have been forgotten. Generally they should be held 6 months after launch. Similarly, the way the discussions are moderated will influence the generation and sharing of knowledge, an outside moderator is recommended. Any knowledge that the NPD generates should ideally be widely shared within the organization.
    Case Study results.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 9.3

Secondary Findings


  • A valuable way to capture knowledge generated during the course of a new product development (NPD) project is to hold a postproject review (PPR). This is "a formal review of the project which examines the lessons which may be learnt and used to the benefit of future projects" (Lane, 2000). (Lane [2000])
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 9.3
  • An approach from psychology — repertory grid technique, appears to access tacit knowledge. The particular advantage of repertory grid technique is that it forces the respondent to think deeply and probes their tacit knowledge. (Goffin [2002]; Reed [2000])
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.11, Step 9.3
  • Social interactions are essential for knowledge transfer and the transfer of tacit knowledge is an essential component of learning complex tasks. Tacit knowledge can only be transferred through detailed discussions among people from similar backgrounds and with common experiences. (Nonaka [1994])
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Step 1.D, KTA Step 2.D, KTA Step 3.D

Tip: By definition, tacit knowledge cannot be clearly expressed, documented, or observed and so it is necessary to use special data collection and analysis techniques. Metaphors and stories have been recognized in the literature as indicators of the generation and exchange of tacit knowledge. (Cook and Brown [1999]; Nonaka [1994])
Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 9.3