Control combinations in new product development projects

  • Rijsdijk S
  • Van Den Ende J
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This article investigates the effects of and interactions among the three prototypical control mechanisms of outcome control, process control, and clan control. Outcome control refers to the specification and evaluation of desired outputs that employees should deliver. Process control concerns mechanisms that specify which behaviors are appropriate, and clan control relies on socialization processes among organizational members. The authors argue that, whereas previous research has generally treated the control mechanisms in isolation, the different control mechanisms are interdependent and act as complements or substitutes in their influence on process performance, product concept effectiveness, and financial performance. The authors collected data through an online survey on 148 new product development projects conducted by high-tech companies located in the Netherlands. The results show that the combination of different controls may lead to synergistic or conflicting effects for the different new product development project outcomes. Outcome controls and clan controls synergistically increase process performance. This implies that the benefit of increasing goal clarity and project team autonomy through outcome controls can be strengthened by supporting it with social cohesion. In contrast, process controls hamper the effectiveness of clan controls in their positive effect on process performance. Potentially, the combination of these relatively information-intensive controls leads to a redundancy in communication that decreases process efficiency. In contrast to expectations, outcome and clan control only independently affect product concept effectiveness. Finally, the results show that outcome control and process control negatively interact in their impact on financial performance. This suggests that the installation of highly strict control systems that combine high levels of both outcome and process controls may lead to lower financial performance. The authors conclude that neglecting the interdependencies between different controls may lead to an incomplete insight into how firms can most effectively manage their new product development processes. © 2011 Product Development & Management Association.

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  • S A Rijsdijk

  • J Van Den Ende

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