Developing complex, business-to-business products: Issues and implications

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-733
Number of pages19
JournalManagement Research Review
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2010


  • Business-to-business marketing
  • Critical thinking
  • Product development
  • Product management
  • Resources


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