Full citation

Gruner, K.E., & Homburg, C. (2000). Does Customer Interaction Enhance New Product Success? Journal of Business Research, 49(1), 1-14.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: The article reports on the impact on NPD performance of: 1) The intensity of customer interaction at different stages of the process; 2) The characteristics of the involved customers.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: 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

Model: The full integration of customers in the Stage-Gate NPD process is justified based on Resource Dependence Theory. That is, information on customer needs and user experiences can be viewed as resources companies depend upon for successful NPD, and continued operation and survival. Customer-related information is highly important for continued operation, customers have discretion over the resources, and customer-related information can only be obtained from the customers themselves.
Field interviews and 310 survey responses from R&D managers.

Tip: Customer interaction enhances the NPD process most at the early and and late stages of product design and development. The middle stage of prototyping and bench testing should be left to the internal project staff, while customers can be kept abreast of this interim progress to keep them current. A deficit in current business practice is particularly evident in the early stages of NPD.
Field interviews and 310 survey responses from R&D managers.
Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.11, Step 2.2, Step 3.5, Step 1.2, Step 6.3, Step 5.3

Secondary Findings


  • NPD can be grounded in Resource Dependence Theory, which proposes that a firm's survival is contingent on its ability to gain control over environmental resources (e.g., funding, personnel, information, products and services). Dependence involves three factors: 1) Extent to which the firm requires the resource for continued operation and survival; 2) Extent to which an external stakeholder has discretion over resource allocation and use; 3) Extent to which there are few alternatives available to the firm. (Pfeffer & Salancik [1978])
  • User needs must be precisely determined and met, and it is important that these needs are monitored throughout the course of the innovation since they very rarely remain completely static. Many successful firms achieve this deep and imaginative understanding of user needs through interaction with a representative sample of potential customers throughout development. (Rothwell et al [1974])