Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify issues that are critical to developing complex, business-to-business products and discuss implications for vendor firms. Design/methodology/approach: This paper employs the critical review approach to current complex product literature and draws from relevant literature streams in engineering, management, and marketing to propose a conceptual framework. Findings: The critical review of the complex products research reveals the following as critical issues for research and practice in the development of complex products: definition, internal and external complexity, product and process complexity, standardized to customized complex products continuum, component and process modularity, and operant resources. Research limitations/implications: This paper identifies six specific operant resources that are critical to the development of complex products and proposes a conceptual framework. Clearly, more needs to be done in terms of theoretical and empirical research with reference to the development of complex, business-to-business products. For example, researchers could empirically test the proposed framework; identify other relevant operant resources; and critique the proposed framework and develop a new, more comprehensive framework. Practical implications: Firms that develop complex products could focus on developing the six operant resources that can help them become competent in developing complex products; and developing organizational structures and policies and providing an organizational environment that is conducive to developing robust internal and external social capital. Originality/value: The proposed conceptual framework provides a theoretical foundation for practitioners and researchers to build on.
- Business-to-business marketing
- Critical thinking
- Product development
- Product management