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Organizing for Product Development Across Technological Environments: Performance Trade-offs and Priorities


  • Laura B. Cardinal

    () (C. T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77204)

  • Scott F. Turner

    () (Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208)

  • Michael J. Fern

    () (Fern Strategy Development, Inc., Santa Clara, California 95056)

  • Richard M. Burton

    () (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)


This study examines how designing for product development influences project performance in distinct technological environments. Drawing on a series of computational experiments and paired-case comparisons of six product development projects, we specifically examine how new product development performance is affected by project design and the technological environment. By triangulating across the computational experiments and case studies, we find the existence of performance trade-offs in product development as well as the importance of performance priorities in influencing project design. These findings permit us to elaborate on existing contingency-based perspectives of new product development and put forward a novel mediating model. In this mediating model of product development, we suggest that the technological environment shapes performance priorities, which in turn influence project design and ultimately the performance outcomes of new product development efforts. This model further highlights that project designs can evolve as a function of performance outcomes, although this process can be inhibited by the presence of design evolution constraints. This research contributes significantly to our understanding of designing projects for new product development.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura B. Cardinal & Scott F. Turner & Michael J. Fern & Richard M. Burton, 2011. "Organizing for Product Development Across Technological Environments: Performance Trade-offs and Priorities," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(4), pages 1000-1025, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:1000-1025
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1100.0577

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