This case study centers on the aim of assessing the role and importance of leadership in the new product development and new product growth process and determining how the leadership factor affects the success of the whole new product development and growth process. A case study methodology was performed in this study, set within the context of the Unilever organization in the UK. Through the use of secondary data, two key findings were identified in this research study. First is that leaders indeed play an important role in both the new product development and growth process and second is that leaders drive the success of the firms’ new product development and growth process. In addition, the findings of this case study revealed that leaders indeed drive the success of the firms’ new product development and growth process in various ways. First is by facilitating interactive and collaborative relationships and intensive communication among the different members of the team. Second is by staying on top of the whole process of new product development and growth. Third is by enabling effective communication and forming collaborative relationships among various team members. And fourth is by launching new products and at the same time, driving the success, growth, and sustainability of the product after it has been launched in the market.
Chapter 1- Introduction
- Research Background
One of the important keys to achieving firm success is the implementation of a seamless and strategic new product development process. It is of critical importance for business firms to continuously produce and introduce new products that will be catered to the different market segments they serve (Hauser & Dahan, 2007). [Access to some parts of the thesis paper has been limited]. According to Bessant & Francis (1997), new product development is recognized by many business organizations as an important source of competitive advantage. Ideally, in order for the new product development process to deliver business success, it must be able to provide products that are of good quality and variety as well as products rightly customized to suit the needs of the consumers produced with the right speed (Bessant & Francis, 1997). [Access to some parts of the thesis paper has been limited]
Business firms that are able to consistently produce new products that perform successfully in the market have an edge over their competitors based on a numer of literatures (Hauser & Dahan, 2007). These are the firms with a fully functional new product development process and as a result, command priority treatment and other benefits such as better payment terms and preferred shelf spaces from the retailers and wholesalers (Hauser & Dahan, 2007). [Access to some parts of the thesis paper has been limited] and at the same time pursue progress in the way they manufacture or create products (Bhuiyan, 2011; Bessant & Francis, 1997).
1.2 Research Gap & Motivations
This study looks into assessing the role of leadership in the successful new product development process of business firms. There are many factors affecting the success of the new product development process and based on studies, the leadership of product managers play a critical role on the success of product development teams as well as the attainment of a clear vision for every new product being developed (Weber, 2014; Crow, 1999; Deloitte, 2015). [Access to some parts of the thesis paper has been limited] established in most literatures and research studies as there is a general lack of research evidences supporting the role of leadership in the success of companies’ new product development process and new product growth.
- Research Context
This study is set in the case study context of the Unilever UK, one of the largest FMCG brands that operate around the globe. The company started in the 1890s with an introduction of a laundry detergent, Sunlight, in the British market. [Access to some parts of the thesis paper has been limited] UK, it has to come up with a wide range of product offerings and keep developing new products (Unilever, 2015). With Unilever UK’s extensive experience in the development and introduction of new products, it makes the company an appropriate business organization to study. Through the insights in this research, other multinational organizations and even start-up companies that are planning to launch new products would greatly benefit from this study.
- Research Questions
The following are the research questions to be answered in this study:
- What is/are the specific role/s of a leader in the development and growth of a product?
- Do the leaders drive the success of the firms’ new product development and growth process?
1.5 Research Objectives
The following are the key objectives that will be addressed in this study:
- To assess the role and importance of leadership in the new product development and new product growth process;
- To find out how the leadership factor affects the success rate in the organizations’ new product development and new product growth process;
Chapter 2- Literature Review
2.1.1 New Product Development Definition
New product development, by definition, refers to the process of transforming market needs, technical ideas as well as new opportunities into new innovative products. It involves an continual set of creative steps and stages which converts product ideas into actual saleable products (Diehl, 2005). Another definition describes new product development as a series of phases/ stages that are aimed to deliver functional and commercial benefits to the consumers (Harmancioglu, McNally, Calantone, & Durmusoglu, 2007). As a process, the concept of new product development is comprised of the following stages: (1) creating/ designing new product strategy, (2) idea generation, (3) screening of product ideas, (4) business analysis, (5) actual product development, (6) product testing and, (7) product launching/ commercialization (Bhuiyan, 2011) [Access to some parts of the thesis paper has been limited]
Gerring, J. (2007). Case study research: Principles and practices. Cambridge University Press.
Harmancioglu, N., McNally, R., Calantone, R., & Durmusoglu, S. (2007). Your new product development (NPD) is only as good as your process: An exploratory analysis of new NPD process design and implementation. R&D Management, 37(5), 399-424.
Hauser, J. & Dahan, E. (2007). Chapter 8: New product development. In R. Grover, & N. Malhotra, Marketing management: Essential marketing knowledge and practice (179-222). McGraw Hill, Inc.
Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc. (2014). The growing importance of more sustainable products in the global healthcare industry. https://www.jnj.com/sites/default/files/pdf/JNJ-Sustainable-Products-White-Paper-092512.pdf
Jones, M. (2015). The important role of new product development process manager. http://www.stage-gate.com/resources_stage-gate_processmanager.php
McKinsey. (2011). The business of sustainability: McKinsey global survey results. http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/energy_resources_materials/the_business_of_sustainability_mckinsey_global_survey_results
Mosier, K. & Fischer, U. (2011). Informed by knowledge: Expert performance in complex situations. Psychology Press.
[Access to some parts of the thesis paper has been limited]