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Why Are Bad Products So Hard to Kill?

Author

Listed:
  • Duncan Simester

    () (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142)

  • Juanjuan Zhang

    () (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142)

Abstract

It is puzzling that firms often continue to invest in product development projects when they should know that demand will be low. We argue that bad products are hard to kill because firms face an inherent conflict when designing managers' incentives. Rewarding success encourages managers to forge ahead even when demand is low. To avoid investing in low-demand products, the firm must also reward decisions to kill products. However, rewarding managers for killing products effectively undermines the rewards for success. The inability to resolve this tension forces the firm to choose between paying an even larger bonus for success and accepting continued investment in low-demand products. We explore the boundaries of this argument by analyzing how the timing of demand information affects product investment decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Duncan Simester & Juanjuan Zhang, 2010. "Why Are Bad Products So Hard to Kill?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(7), pages 1161-1179, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:56:y:2010:i:7:p:1161-1179
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1100.1169
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Katolnik, Svetlana & Schöndube, Jens Robert, 2015. "Don't Kill the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs: Strategic Delay in Project Completion," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113046, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Katolnik, Svetlana & Schöndube, Jens Robert, 2014. "Don't Kill the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs: Strategic Delay in Project Completion," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-533, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    3. Liang Guo & Juanjuan Zhang, 2012. "Consumer Deliberation and Product Line Design," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(6), pages 995-1007, November.
    4. Yan Dong & Yuliang Yao & Tony Haitao Cui, 2011. "When Acquisition Spoils Retention: Direct Selling vs. Delegation Under CRM," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(7), pages 1288-1299, July.
    5. Kräkel, Matthias & Schöttner, Anja, 2016. "Optimal sales force compensation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 179-195.

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