Full citation

Zirger, B.J., & Maidique, M.A. (1990). A Model of New Product Development: An Empirical Test.Management Science, 36(7), 867-883.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: The authors reviewed factors related to successful and unsuccessful product development efforts for over 330 new products in the electronics industry. Their findings revealed key factors that affect product outcomes including: the quality of the R&D organization; the product's technical performance; value to the customer; synergy of the product with existing competencies; management support; marketing and manufacturing competence; competitiveness; and size and growth rate of the target market.

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

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

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

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

Primary Findings

Barrier: Technological leadership is very risky. Innovators must have in depth customer communication and understanding. Technology leaders generally find that they must educate potential customers about the uses and applications of a new product.
Survey of 172 electronics products


  • New products must provide significant value to the customer. Superior technical performance, lower cost design, unique features or superior product quality and reliability can all be used to achieve this end.
    Survey of 172 electronics products
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 1.3
  • Another primary contributor to product success is strategic focus. Firms should choose projects that build upon the firm's existing technological, marketing, and organizational competencies. When new ventures are undertaken, the firm must consider and perhaps minimize where possible one or more dimensions of newness.
    Survey of 172 electronics products
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Stage 1, Step 4.1
  • Products that are first to the market and experience little competition are more successful. Technically superior, first to market product are more likely to be winners. Introducing products to relatively large and growing markets is more likely to result in product success.
    Survey of 172 electronics products
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 2.2
  • Managerial excellence is critical to product success. Products are more likely to be successful if they are planned and implemented well. Project planning should include all phases of the development process; research, development, engineering, manufacturing, and market introduction. Development does not have to be a linear process. The process should be regularly and formally monitored throughout the life of the project.
    Survey of 172 electronics products.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 3.1, Step 4.1, Step 1.1
  • Management commitment is essential to product success. Without it, needed resources may not be approved.
    Survey of 172 electronics products

Secondary Findings


  • Two studies identified the principal causes of new product failure as ineffective product marketing and poor market research. (Hopkins, 1980; Cooper, 1975)
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.3, Step 2.2, Step 7.10
  • The implicit barrier between the functional groups (marketing, R&D, and manufacturing) is represented in the model by physical separations between the entities. Without conscious efforts by the organization to bridge these gaps, information critical to the product's form and function are likely to be lost, particularly as the organization grows in complexity and diversity. (Rubenstein et al, 1976; Souder & Chakrabarti, 1978; Souder, 1981; Gupta, 1985)

Model: New products were more successful if they were designed to satisfy a perceived need than if they were developed to simply take advantage of a new technology. (Marquis, 1969)
Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 1.1

Tip: New product success was primarily related to five factors: understanding of user needs; attention to marketing and publicity; efficiency of development; effective use of outside technology and external scientific communication; and seniority and authority of the managers' responsible for the development of the product. (Rothwell et all, 1974; Rothwell, 1972)