New product innovation has been identified as the key to firms' marketplace success, profit and survival. Yet, the failure rate for new products is high. Because of the high costs associated with new product development, there is considerable theoretical and managerial interest in how to minimize the high failure rates of new products and what separates new product winners from losers. This study focuses on individual level ambidexterity - namely head of the R&D departments' capacity to engage in creativity and attention-to-detail simultaneously, a skill involving different centers of attention, and relying on somewhat incompatible behaviors and processes. The ability to engage in these behaviors simultaneously is seen as being ambidextrous. Drawing from the data of 150 advanced manufacturing firms in India (gathered from one CEO and one head of the R&D department for each firm), the results show that when an individual head of R&D engages heavily only in creativity, too many new, risky ideas may come and when he/she engages heavily only in attention-to-detail, he/she may suffer through a lack of novel ideas. Both approaches limit individual's contribution to enhancing product innovation - financial performance relationship. The results also show that an individual head of R&D needs to engage in high levels creativity and attention-to-detail in the pursuit of enhancing product innovation to achieve superior financial performance.
- New product innovation