Product elimination is an important tool for effective product line management. Scholarly, it was originally addressed in the 1960s, in the context of a conceptual paper. Today the relevant theory has its stance in the broader product line management literature, much as its size is still small, compared to other topics of product line management research (e.g., new product development). This paper's purpose is to present a critical synthesis of the product elimination theory and advance implications for future research. A mix of manual and electronic means of bibliographic search resulted in the identification of 15 conceptual and 51 empirical papers, published primarily in marketing, but also in management and economic journals. Key arguments of conceptual papers and methods and key findings of empirical studies are classified under broad thematic areas and discussed critically. From the review it is evident that extant theory has addressed important aspects of product elimination. However, various unanswered issues are identified and discussed as directions for future investigation under five broad angles. This paper provides the first systematic review of the extant conceptual and empirical material on product elimination and proposes a future research agenda that can further empirical knowledge on this important, but largely understudied, topic of product line management research.
The Marketing Review, 12 (4), 2012 , 345-379.
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