The effect of cost goal specificity and new product development process on cost reduction performance

Mohan Gopalakrishnan, Theresa Libby, Janet A. Samuels, Dan Swenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Many firms that compete based on the development of new and innovative products have begun to adopt concurrent new product development (NPD) processes in which product design phases occur in a non-linear and iterative manner. While concurrent NPD processes increase flexibility and reduce time-to-market as compared to traditional sequential processes, concurrency increases task uncertainty since the product design process begins before all important product features and specifications have been established. Such changes can result in costly redesign and rework. Prior research suggests target costing, where product design teams are assigned specific cost goals, is an effective method of controlling costs in sequential NPD. Even so, it is unclear whether target costing will improve cost reduction performance when combined with a concurrent NPD process due to increased task uncertainty. We examine experimentally the ability of product design groups to achieve specific or general cost reduction goals under simulated sequential or concurrent NPD. We predict and find that the nature of the NPD process moderates the effect of specific cost reduction goals on actual cost reduction performance. While specific cost goals result in higher reductions in product cost than general cost goals under a sequential NPD process, specific goals are no better than general goals in motivating design groups to reduce product cost under a concurrent NPD process; thus, we demonstrate boundary conditions on the usefulness of target costing as a cost control method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Information Systems and Management


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