Innovating and developing new products is critical for the survival and growth of any small firm, but particularly for technology-based firms.
This study of NPD at small Irish electronics firms makes two main contributions to knowledge. Firstly, the management of NPD at small firms is found to be different from that at large firms in several respects, including: NPD resources and expenditure, organising for NPD, NPD process proficiency, marketing and technical skills and proficiency, R&D/marketing integration, top management support, and, new product and market characteristics. These differences are shown to have implications for managers, policy makers and researchers. Secondly, this study provides a unique insight into the management of NPD in Irish firms and facilitates a comparison between NPD in Irish firms and those in other countries. Some of the key features of NPD in Ireland highlighted by this study are; NPD at large Irish electronics firms is mainly incremental, Irish firms are good at developing technically difficult new product but are slow to enter new markets, and, Irish electronics firms do not have well developed project management skills.
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Dr Ann Ledwith is Lecturer in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Limerick. She holds a degree in Electronic Engineering (NIHE), an MBA (UL) and a PhD (University of Brighton). She has worked for over 12 years in R&D, initially as an R&D engineer, developing hardware and software products, subsequently as a project leader and finally as R&D manager in a small firm developing and manufacturing automatic test equipment for power supplies. She also spent three years managing a small electronics consultancy team based at the University of Limerick. She is the Director of a degree course in Manufacturing Engineering, an Associate Academic Director of a distance learning MSc in Technology Management and a member of the advisory board for the Centre for Project Management, UL. Her research interests include the management of new product development and project management in small firms.Dr. Paul Coughlan is Associate Professor of Operations Management at the School of Business, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His research interests include continuous improvement of manufacturing and product development practices, services innovation, action learning, action research, and commercialisation of university research. He is President of the Board of the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM).Prof. John Bessant is co-Director of the EPSRC/AIM collaborative programme with Cambridge, Cranfield, Loughborough and Liverpool Universities: the Innovation and Productivity Grand Challenge. He holds a degree in Chemical Engineering and received his PhD for work on innovation within the chemical industry. In 2003 he was awarded a Fellowship with the Advanced Institute for Management Research and was also elected a Fellow of the British Academy of Management. He is the author of 15 books and many articles on innovation. He has lectured and consulted widely around the world with many companies, various national governments and to international bodies including the United Nations, the World Bank and the OECD.