New product development in turbulent environments: Impact of improvisation and unlearning on new product performance

AKGÜN A. E. , Byrne J. C. , Lynn G. S. , Keskin H.

JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT, vol.24, no.3, pp.203-230, 2007 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jengtecman.2007.05.008
  • Page Numbers: pp.203-230


Team learning is vital for organizations in order to compete in fast-paced environments. However, the ways learning can be effective in such environments warrents research, especially for teams developing new products under rapidly changing technological and market conditions. Interestingly, recent new product development (NPD) literature demonstrates the essential role of improvisation (i.e., planning and executing any action simultaneously) and unlearning (i.e., changes in team beliefs and project routines) for effective learning and performing under turbulent conditions. However, the combined effect of team improvisation and unlearning on new product success (NPS) has largely been ignored. This paper investigates the nomological relations among team improvisation and unlearning, new product success, and environmental turbulence, and contributes to the literature on NPD team learning, and on team flexibility under turbulent conditions. By examining 197 new product-development projects, we found that (1) environmental turbulence positively affects team unlearning, (2) team unlearning concurrently stimulates team improvisation, (3) team improvisation positively impacts new product success by utilizing/implementing new knowledge acquired by unlearning and improvisation. We further discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of our conclusions. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.