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New Product Development

The course deals with activities along the entire new product development (NPD) process from the first idea to market launch. Students will learn about managing different stages of the NPD process and apply their new knowledge in case studies. Apart from the classic knowledge about the NPD process there will be further one or two special topics discussed which mirror actual developments regarding NPD. The course helps to deepen the students' knowledge in NPD and innovation management.
Course code
Course type
MSc Course
Weekly Hours
FS 2021
Prof. Dr. Dries Faems
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

Module 1: Introduction and Serious Lego Play Session

(January 7, 8.00 am – 11.15 am)

In this first module, the structure and content of the course will be explained. This session will also provide in-depth information on the assignments and grading procedure. During this module, we will also conduct a Serious Lego Play workshop to introduce some core concepts.

Module 2: Organizing NPD at the organizational level

(January 15, 8.00 am – 11.15 am)

In this module, we discuss different structural solutions that companies can use to combine exploitative and explorative innovation.

Reading material:

  • Jansen, J.J.P., Van den Bosch, F.A.J., Volberda, H.W. (2006). Exploratory innovation, exploitative innovation, and performance: Effects of organizational antecedents and environmental moderators. Management Science, 52, 1661-1674.
  • Gibson, C.B. and Birkinshaw, J. (2004). The Antecedents, Consequences, and Mediating Role of Organizational Ambidexterity. Academy of Management Journal, 47: 209-226

Module 3: New Product Development Processes

(January 22, 8.00 am – 11.15 am)

In this module, we focus on the product development process. Special attention will be paid to the advantages and disadvantages of stage-gate processes. A guest speaker will provide in-depth information on the opportunities and challenges of lean new product development processes.

Reading material:

  • Sethi, R. & Iqbal, Z. (2008) Stage-Gate Controls, Learning Failure, and Adverse Effect on Novel New Products. Journal of Marketing, 72: 118-134
  • Bianchi, M., Marzi, G., Guerini, M. (in press) Agile, Stage-Gate and their combination: Exploring how they relate to performance in software development. Journal of Business Research https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296318302273?via%3Dihub

Module 4: Organizing for NPD at the inter-organizational level

February 1, 11.30 am – 3.15 pm)

In this module, we shift focus to the inter-organizational level and identify R&D alliances as an alternative approach to engage in NPD. We focus on the core challenges in successfully governing NPD activities with external partners.

Reading material:

  • Gulati, R. & Singh, H. (1998) The Architecture of Cooperation: Managing Coordination Costs and Appropriation Concerns in Strategic Alliances. Administrative Science Quarterly, 43: 781-814.
  • Faems, D.; Janssens, M.; Madhok, A. & Van Looy, B. (2008) Toward an integrative perspective on alliance governance: Connecting contract design, contract application, and trust dynamics. Academy of Management Journal, 51: 1053-1078.

Module 5: Organizing for NPD at the ecosystem level

(February 4, 8.00 am – 11.15 am)

In this module, we discuss the novel trend of ecosystem innovation. We delve deeper into the risks of engaging in ecosystem innovation and discuss the managerial challenges of becoming an ecosystem innovation.

Reading material:

  • Faems, D.; Broekhuizen, T (Working Paper) Ecosystem as Culture: Do firms need an ecosystem-centered mindset to benefit from diverse collaboration portfolios?
  • Adner, R. (2006) Match Your Innovation Strategy to Your Innovation Ecosystem. Harvard Business Review.

Module 6: Organizing NPD at the team level + Mock Exam

(February 19, 11:30 am – 15:15 pm

In this module, we shift focus to the team level and discuss the optimal composition of teams to successfully execute NPD activities. We pay special attention to the role of conflict and diversity in teams.

Reading material:

  • De Clercq, D., Thongpapanl, N. and Dimov, D. (2009) When good conflict gets better and bad conflict becomes worse: the role of social capital in the conflict–innovation relationship. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 37:283–297.
  • De Visser, M.; Faems, D.; Weerd-Nederhof, P.; Visscher, K. (2014) The impact of team cognitive styles on performance of radical and incremental NPD projects. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 1167-1180
Date Time
Thursday, 07.01.2021 08:00 - 11:15
Friday, 15.01.2021 08:00 - 11:15
Friday, 22.01.2021 08:00 - 11:15
Monday, 01.02.2021 11:30 - 15:15
Thursday, 04.02.2021 08:00 - 11:15
Friday, 19.02.2021 11:30 - 15:15
Monday, 01.03.2021 09:00 - 11:00
This course aims to provide students an in-depth understanding of the theoretical and practical challenges of New Product Development. During the course, the students will receive advanced insights in particular tensions (i.e. exploration versus exploitation; control versus autonomy; functional versus cross-functional; collaboration versus competition) that firms experience when organizing new product development activities. In addition, based on existing academic literature, particular solutions for these challenges will be presented and discussed.

Students will be challenged to critically reflect on high-level academic research on the topic of new product development. In addition, by means of case assignments, they are encouraged to transform and apply these insights into recommendations that are also relevant for practitioners.

Lecture, case work, group work, in-class presentation
Group assignments: Each group will need to conduct 3 case assignments. Additional information on the assignments will be provided during the first module.

Exam: The exam will be an open book exam. A mock exam will be conducted to train for the final exam

Grading: The case assignments will constitute 40% of the final grade. The individual exam will constitute 50% of the final grade. Class participation will be 10% of the final grade.

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