Full citation

Frahm, J., Ireland, D.C., & Hine, D. (2007). Constructing a Processual Model of Communication in New Product Development From a Multiple Case Study of Biotechnology SMEs. Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, 13(3), 151-161.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: The authors of this article present their case study on communication within the new product development process of biotechnology firms. A framework is presented, depicting the flow of communication both internal and external to the organization. It was found that communication roles differ and can be identified as envisioning, information disseminating, information seeking, information providing, engendering ownership, creating discipline, facilitating cross-functional planning and image managing, all of which are illustrated in the framework.

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

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

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

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

Primary Findings


  • NPD Project Team and Functional Group — information disseminating, engendering ownership, creating discipline, information seeking, facilitating cross-functional planning — This communication is a combination of the uncertainty reduction activities as well as the engagement capabilities. When the members of the functional groups have a sense of ownership, they are proactive in seeking information they require, and providing information that will be necessary in advanced stages.
    Case study analysis.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Stage 4, Stage 5, Stage 6, Stage 7, Stage 8, Stage 9
  • Senior Management and External Stakeholders — image managing, information seeking — As NPD in biotechnology is a many year project, it is essential that the role of the fundraiser is performed to ensure a steady flow of investment funds. Subjects indicated that the external communication to the funds analysts and venture capitalists could be considered ‘Investor Relations’ or ‘Public Relations’. In return, these stakeholders require information about the firm’s milestones, progress and future research to continue funding.
    Case study analysis
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.9, Step 3.4
  • The communication that occurs between the NPD committee and the NPD project team is an uncertainty reduction activity. This means that it is essential that the NPD committee provide as much information as possible to the NPD project team in order for them to function effectively. The more communication that occurred in terms of providing information, in response to information sought, the more smoothly the NPD process went.
    Case study analysis
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Stage 4
  • Senior Management to NPD Committee — envisioning — The communication that occurs in this stage can be explained using ‘engagement’ capability. Engagement capability encompasses commitment formation, motivating, enthusing and path finding. It is this capability that the CEOs and GMs interviewed talk about in order for the NPD process to occur successfully.
    Case study analysis
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Stage 1, Stage 2
  • Managing the innovation process, including obtaining timely, appropriate funding for all stages of the discovery pipeline and generating commercial outcomes, is crucial to ensuring firm survival.
    Authors experience.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 3.4

Secondary Findings

Barrier: Despite an abundance of academic and scientific expertise, biotechnology firms suffer from a lack of management skill and knowledge. This lack of skills and knowledge impacts on the firm’s ability to manage NPD as well as to secure the funding required for sustained performance. (Ernst & Young [2001], Department of Industry Science and Resources and Ernst & Young [1999])
Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.9, Step 1.5, Step 4.1, Step 3.4, Step 4.3, Step 4.13

Method: In order to exchange information externally and internally for better NPD, a firm requires employees to be spanning the boundaries of the firm to exchange information with other organizations. (Ancona, D. & Caldwell, D. [1992])
Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.1, Step 4.6