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Leading Successful Product Innovation in Consumer Financial Services

Harborne, P. (2000). Leading Successful Product Innovation in Consumer Financial Services. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis investigates ways in which leadership style - the way that leaders act - affects success levels in complex New Service Development (NSD) projects. It builds on Bartlett and Ghoshal’s (1995) concept of “new style” businesses, which empower staff to deliver success, instead of using the “old style” command and control approach.

Whilst the study was able to identify “new style” trends in the industry researched - consumer financial services - it was not possible to identify any particularly innovative businesses. Industry experts and practitioners did, however, spontaneously identify innovative development projects and so this study concentrates on project leadership practice.

The study uses multiple case studies formed from a purposive sample of 10 successful and 9 less successful complex NSD projects, from both market incumbents and new entrants. These cases demonstrate that, whilst each project was subject to similar procedures across all the businesses, levels of success varied. Success was judged on meeting the project “opportunity window” as defined by each project’s objectives for (i) time, (ii) budget, and (iii) specifications.

We found that it was the active involvement of project leadership teams, formed of three leaders - a senior, a business and a project leader - working together synergistically in a specific leadership style, that affects project success. The leadership style found to be associated with successful projects was encouraged by the senior leader, and involved (i) senior leaders visibly participating in the development; (ii) informal and formal contact between all leaders and project team members; and (iii) all leaders acting to enable rather than control.

This study suggests therefore, on the basis of the field study findings, better ways in which leaders can act in complex NSD projects. As we studied both market incumbents and new entrants, the findings are generalisable across the consumer financial services industry.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Departments: Bayes Business School
Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Harborne thesis 2000 PDF-A.pdf]
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