Uncovering the complementarity between product and process innovation in New Product and Process Development Projects
: an investigation in the UK food and drink sector

  • Dušana Hullová

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The purpose of this research project is to provide a starting point in examining the relationship between product and process innovation beyond the industry and company level. This is the first study to integrate perspectives from project portfolio management, contingency theory and the resource-based view of the firm. This study further demonstrates how differences in resources and capabilities, combined with the specific needs of the New Product and Process Development Projects will influence the type of complementarity between product and process innovation.

    The research project contributes to the research on complementarities by proposing a new classification that defines seven unique complementarities between product and process innovation and plot them on a Product-Process Complementarity Map. This map was developed to help Product and Process Development Managers to visualise the variety of options available to the companies during their New Product and Process Development Projects. This research project is further enriched by identifying three contingency factors that influence adoption of complementarity strategy at the project level: (1) technology trajectories, (2) power of supply chain, (3) potential and realised absorptive capacity. These three discrete, but interrelated resources and capabilities, are widely referenced in the context of low technology process industries - particularly the food and drink sector. These two contributions are brought together in the Typology: The Complementarity-Capability Matrix. This Matrix proposes seven complementarity strategies and identifies resources and capabilities, necessary to achieve them.

    The theoretical contributions are tested and extended in the empirical part of the research project, using qualitative data collection techniques. The findings from Phase 1 highlight that choice of complementarity strategy is not an integral part of the New Product and Process Development project planning. Food and drink companies do not actively manage and consider complementarity types available to them during the project - some of the companies are not even aware of their existence. Innovation strategies adopted within projects are mainly influenced by sunk costs, premature scrapping of existing production machinery and by retailer’s order specifications for their own-label products. Furthermore, internal organisational perception of innovation within food and drink companies negatively influences product and process innovation. Companies are, to a large extent, focused on efficiency and day-to-day operations leaving limited space for exploration of new ideas. Findings from Phase 1 led to a Revised Product-Process Complementarity Map and identification of an additional complementarity; Incremental Reciprocal complementarity.

    Phase 2 of data collection tested and extended the Typology: The Complementarity-Capability Matrix using eight ‘illustrative’ case studies. Although, the data from case studies generally supported the three proposed contingencies to influence the complementarity strategy. Several non-confirming cases revealed limitations of the Matrix and provided further guidance in allocation of resources and capabilities towards different projects. The revised version of the Typology is designed to contribute to the understanding of complementarities beyond the industry and company level. This Typology aims to guide managers’ decisions when facing New Product and Process Development Projects within the food and drink sector (as well as other low-technology sectors).

    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorChris Simms (Supervisor) & Paul Trott (Supervisor)

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