Information distribution, utilization, and decisions by new product development teams

Zhang, H., Basadur, T. M. and Schmidt, J. B. (2014), Information distribution, utilization, and decisions by new product development teams. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31: pp 189–204.


Typically, organizations use new product development processes composed of activities followed by decision points, where projects are continued or abandoned. A decision maker likely possesses some common information also held by other decision makers and some unique information (that only she/he possesses). If a team relies mainly on overlapping, or common, information, decisions may suffer, but if they share and utilize information originally possessed by a subset of individual members, better decisions can be made. In this paper, the authors designed and conducted four studies to examine the effects of information distribution and utilization on new product team decision-making. In study 1, the findings show that team members tend to use information possessed by everyone (i.e., common information) but neglect critical information possessed only by one of them (i.e., unique information). This common information bias results in suboptimal new product continuation decisions. In study 2, the interplay between the common information bias and team commitment to the NPD project favored by unique information is examined. The results show that although commitment influences new product development team decisions, the common information bias is stronger. Study 3 was conducted to rule out an alternative explanation for the effect of information distribution—the perception of information importance. In study 4, the focal hypotheses were re-tested using a different sample to add confidence in the findings.

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