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Managing New Product Definition in Highly Dynamic Environments


  • Shantanu Bhattacharya

    (INSEAD, Boulevard de Constance, 77305 Fontainebeau, France)

  • V. Krishnan

    (Department of Management, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712)

  • Vijay Mahajan

    (Department of Marketing Administration, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712)


In highly dynamic environments, characterized by changing customer preferences and uncertainty about competitive products, managing the development of a new product is a complex managerial task. The traditional practice, recommended in the literature, of reaching a sharp definition early in the new product development (NPD) process may not be optimal, desirable or even feasible in such dynamic situations. Under high uncertainty, forcing early finalization of specifications may result in a firm getting locked into an incorrect definition. Based on our study of NPD in the high technology industry, we present a model of an approach called real-time definition, in which a firm adapts its product definition process to the market and competitive environment. Uncertainty in the product definition is resolved through frequent, repeated interactions with customers and using a flexible development process. We find that early definition is optimal only in a limited set of situations. To maximize its anticipated profits, a firm should tune its definition process to the prevailing level of market uncertainty, the marginal value of information obtained from the customer during the NPD process, and its own risk-profile and internal development capabilities. Effects of competition on a firm's definition approach are also examined, and implications for managers of a NPD process are presented using a conceptual framework.

Suggested Citation

  • Shantanu Bhattacharya & V. Krishnan & Vijay Mahajan, 1998. "Managing New Product Definition in Highly Dynamic Environments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(11-Part-2), pages 50-64, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:44:y:1998:i:11-part-2:p:s50-s64

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jehoshua Eliashberg & Abel P. Jeuland, 1986. "The Impact of Competitive Entry in a Developing Market Upon Dynamic Pricing Strategies," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 5(1), pages 20-36.
    2. Sunder Kekre & Kannan Srinivasan, 1990. "Broader Product Line: A Necessity to Achieve Success?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(10), pages 1216-1232, October.
    3. Viswanathan Krishnan & Steven D. Eppinger & Daniel E. Whitney, 1997. "A Model-Based Framework to Overlap Product Development Activities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(4), pages 437-451, April.
    4. Steven Huddart, 1993. "The Effect of a Large Shareholder on Corporate Value," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(11), pages 1407-1421, November.
    5. Albert Y. Ha & Evan L. Porteus, 1995. "Optimal Timing of Reviews in Concurrent Design for Manufacturability," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(9), pages 1431-1447, September.
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