Organizational learning and new product development success

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration


Clint B. Tankersley


Organizational learning, New product development, Product development, Packaged food industry

Subject Categories

Business | Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods | Marketing


This dissertation explores the relationship between organizational learning (OL) and new product development (NPD) success in the context of a mature, highly competitive industry, U.S. retail packaged foods. It also explores the inter-relationships between OL, NPD process, internal modifying variables such as infrastructure and firm market power, and external modifying variables such as technological and market turbulence. It draws on prior research of OL, market orientation, and NPD processes, and extends it to construct an organizational learning model of NPD success. This is believed to be the first comprehensive study to integrate these factors in the context of a retail marketing-driven industry.

OL was found to be associated positively with NPD success, although those aspects associated with the learning process, such as information gathering, interpretation and dissemination, exhibited a weaker relationship than those related to behavioral variables, such as shared vision, commitment and open-mindedness. OL was also found to be correlated significantly with measures of NPD process, and internal and external modifiers. A new measure of organizational learning was proposed which derives from firm resources and learning orientation.

This study has resulted in development of a model of organizational learning and NPD outcomes which integrates resource-based and behavioral theories of the firm. It includes new parsimonious measures of constructs such as organizational learning, NPD process and internal and external modifiers, which are conceptually equivalent to prior research. It has also demonstrated the contingent nature of NPD process, organizational learning, and comparative advantage theory with respect to degree of product innovation and firm size.

Managerial contributions include identification of organizational factors within the firm's control which contribute to NPD success. Small firms were found to score significantly higher in organizational learning and NPD success than large firms. This is believed to be due to greater ease of communication within small firms and less organizational restructuring and turnover resulting from industry consolidation and human resource policy. Average NPD success rates were 60% compared to the conventional wisdom of 12%, implying that firms seeking competitive advantage should aim for more than 60% success.


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