Front-end activities largely influence the outcomes of new product development processes, because it is here that firms create new ideas, give them direction, and set them in motion. We show that the front end can be understood as comprising three core activities: idea/concept development, idea/concept alignment, and idea/concept legitimization, which allow firms to create corroborated product definitions. This article provides important implications for managers interested in front-end management. It devotes specific attention to the differences between incremental and radical front-end development and to the front end in the light of increasingly open innovation processes.
The authors would like to thank the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova) for funding this research. Three anonymous CMR reviewers provided valuable feedback on drafts of the article.
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