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Evaluating failure in the innovation process: the micropolitics of new product development

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For almost 40 years academics from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds have sought to improve our understanding of the innovation process. In this paper, we examine the contribution made by those such as Kotler who have attempted to describe a rational approach to New Product Development (NPD). We argue that such frameworks offer a view of organisational activity which substantially understates the political activity associated with managing the innovation process. Most of those writing from a marketing perspective acknowledge external political influences such as government policies and the leverage of ‘special interest groups’. We focus on the work of Burns and Stalker who clearly recognised the way in which internal political struggles to access resources or to improve career prospects impact on innovation. To analyse the role of micropolitics in the NPD process we describe the case of WEL, a medium-sized manufacturing firm, as managers and engineers attempted to develop an important new product. We conclude that it is essential to incorporate the role of internal politics into any framework which claims to offer a realistic account of NPD.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Strategic Management, Aston Business School, Birmingham, B4 7ET. [email protected]

Publication date: 1999-04-01

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