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The Vital Role of Problem-Solving Competence in New Product Success

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Abstract

Problem solving, a process of seeking, defining, evaluating, and implementing the solutions, is considered a converter that can translate organizational inputs into valuable product and service outputs. A key challenge for the product innovation community is to answer questions about how knowledge competence and problem-solving competence develop and sustain competitive advantage. The objective of this study is to theoretically examine and empirically test an existing assumption that problem-solving competence is an important variable connecting market knowledge competence with new product performance. New product projects from 396 firms in the high-technology zones in China were used to test the study's theoretical model. The results first indicate that problem-solving speed and creativity matter in new product innovation performance by playing mediator roles between market knowledge competence and positional advantage, which in turn sustains superior performance. This new insight suggest that mere generation of market knowledge and having a marketing-research and development (R&D) interface will not affect new product performance unless project members have the ability to use the information and to interact to identify and solve complex problems speedily and creatively. Second, these results suggest that different market knowledge competences (customers, competitors, and interactions between marketing and R&D) have distinct impacts on problem-solving speed and creativity (positive, negative, or none), which underscore the need to embrace a more fine-grained notion of market knowledge competence. The results also reveal that the relative importance of some of these relationships depends on the perceived level of turbulence in the environment. First, competitor knowledge competence decreases problem-solving speed when perceived environmental turbulence is low but enhances problem-solving speed when perceived turbulence is high. Second, competitor knowledge competence has a positive relationship with new product performance when the environmental turbulence is high but no relationship when the environmental turbulence is low. Third, the positive relationship between problem-solving speed and product advantage is stronger when the perceived environmental turbulence is high than when it is low, which implies that problem solving is more important for creating product advantage when environmental turbulence is high and change is fast and unpredictable. Fourth, the negative relationship between problem-solving speed and new product performance is stronger when the perceived environmental turbulence is high than when it is low, which means that problem-solving speed is more harmful for new product performance when change is fast and unpredictable. And fifth, the positive relationship between product quality and new product performance is stronger when perceived environmental turbulence is low than when it is high, which implies that product quality may more likely lead to new product performance when the environment is stable and changes are easy to predict, analyze, and comprehend.

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[Atuahene-Gima, Kwaku] China Europe Int Business Sch, 699 Hongfeng Rd, Shanghai 201206, Peoples R China

[Wei, Yinghong (Susan) ] Oklahoma State Univ, Stillwater, OK 74078 USA


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Source

Journal of Product Innovation Management

ISSN:0737-6782

Year:2011

Issue:1

Volume:28

Page:81-98

Powered by JCR@2011

ESI Discipline:ECONOMICS & BUSINESS;

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