Although information technology (IT) tools for new product development (NPD) are widely available, prior studies have found the usage of IT to be limited to large-sized firms (cf. Barczak and Sultan, 2006), but increasing (Cooper, 2007). Extant research indicates that several factors influence IT usage, including the existence of a champion and NPD process formalization (Barczak, Sultan, and Hultink, 2007; Barczak, Hultink, and Sultan, 2008). In addition, the antecedents to IT usage have been found to vary among countries (Barczak, Hultink, and Sultan, 2008); that is, they are context-specific. This study extends prior research by exploring the factors that facilitate and/or inhibit IT usage for NPD in Japanese firms. Japan was chosen for this study because it has been argued that, in order to develop generalized NPD theories applicable across different nations or cultures, further understanding is needed about countries other than North American and Western European countries (Song and Parry, 1996; Song, Kawakami, and Stringfellow, 2010). Additionally, the culture of Japan is known for being very different from North America and other Western countries, particularly in terms of Japan's relative emphasis on the collective as opposed to the individual; high in uncertainty avoidance as opposed to low uncertainty avoidance; and long-term orientation rather than short-term orientation (Hofstede, 2005; Kawakami, Maclachlan, and Stringfellow, forthcoming). The lack of research in Japan on IT and NPD implied the need for an exploratory, grounded theory approach to this study. Using a multiple case study method, the authors conducted semi-structured interviews with 35 marketing, R&D, and IT managers and executives in 19 firms in a variety of industries. Based on the analysis of the interview data and the follow-up surveys, the authors propose that ten factors in five categories, namely, strategic factors, market environment factors, development process factors, organizational factors, and technology-human interaction factors, are likely to influence IT usage for NPD in Japanese companies. Specifically, product innovativeness, extent of global engagement, formalized IT ROI measure, standardization of NPD activities, physical proximity, resistance to change, CIO as an executive sponsor, sensory requirements, perceived ease of use, and perceived usefulness are expected to influence IT usage. From a theoretical perspective, this study extends prior research on IT usage by expanding the cultural context beyond North America and Western Europe by focusing on an Asian country, namely Japan. It also adds to the limited research that integrates national culture and NPD and enables the development of a conceptual model that could be tested empirically.
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