A NEW THEORY – MODEL STRATEGY FOR NEW FLOWER CROPS DEVELOPMENT
A NEW THEORY – MODEL STRATEGY FOR NEW FLOWERCROPS DEVELOPMENTD. Zervaki, K. Papanastasi and E. MaloupaNational Agricultural Research Foundation,Laboratory of Conservation and Evaluation of Native and Floricultural Species – BalkanBotanic Garden of KroussiaP.O. Box 60 125, GR – 570 01, Thermi, Thessaloniki, GreeceKeywords: Balkan Botanic Garden Kroussia, new product development, species evaluationAbstract New Flower Crop Development procedures require innovation as the engineof growth for every organization. In order to approach innovation for thedevelopment of new products, a new theory – model for NFC Development ispresented. An inductive driven methodology was used to evaluate the NPD methodsand practices, which already exist worldwide. The observations made, led to theconstruction of explanations and theories about what has been observed and whatshould be applied. Two methods were used for collecting data for this qualitativeresearch; the first was based on primary data collection using a survey addressed tobusiness and the second one was the secondary data collection method, making acomparison of the preceding data with the literature. A questionnaire was providedto a Greek company that produced floricultural plants relating to the strategy usedto introduce plants to the market as New Ornamental Species. This strategy wascompared with other strategies used by companies and Research Organizationsworldwide and data analyzed based on successful models of theories and practicesfound in the literature. The research strategy adopted was exploratory incombination with a case study. Balkan Botanic Garden of Kroussia is following theproposed theory – model for New Flower Crop Development and is currently usingrepresentative Greek native species intending to endorse them in the market.INTRODUCTION The introduction of new products in today’s technology-driven markets carriessignificant risk. Changes in legislation, health programs, agricultural policies and supportprograms may alter the development of New Flower Products. In addition, consumers’preference also is changing towards more “natural” and “environmentally-friendly”products. The lack of a general specified approach to New Product Development (NPD)process designates that this process is complex with multiple perspectives. Supply-led andproducer demand-led models are applied in floricultural industry. The successfulintroduction of new ornamental plants into the market frequently fails, due tounprofessional ways and lack of good publicity (Von Henting, 1995). In addition the lackof knowledge about scientific, technological, economic and market context do not allowplanning a research project appropriately and may limit profitable results regarding NewFlower Crops (Serra, 1994).
The Laboratory of Conservation and Evaluation of Native and FloriculturalSpecies – Balkan Botanic Garden of Kroussia (BBGK) currently preserves more than2.500 accession numbers of native plants of Greek and Balkan Flora. Garden’s BotanicData Base provides the most relevant information about the plant species we havecollected. Evaluation of these species has commenced with the intention to developpotential species and market them successfully into the floricultural trade. BBGK isaiming to re-introduce these selected species, to ensure their long lasting conservation. Inaddition, based on secondary data collected by the literature and in close co-operationwith Greek companies, which show special interest towards the introduction of NewFlower Crops (NFC) in the marketplace, a customized model for NPD process regardingfloral products was generated. This proposed model implemented by a company, in closeco-operation with the Laboratory – BBGK leading to the selection of certain nativespecies for commercialization.MATERIALS AND METHODSEvaluation of collected species Two thousand five hundred (2500) accession numbers of native plants have beencollected, which correspond to 1200 taxa (species and sub-species), are maintained byBBGK. Aiming at selecting and exploit certain native species, the evaluation of the abovementioned accession numbers took place. The market sectors of interest are thelandscape/amenity sector, the pot plant sector and the cut-flower sector. Evaluation started using a matrix model based on conservation and legalprotection status of the species. Conservation status indicated using data of the Red DataBook of rare and threatened plants of Greece, the Red List of International Union forConservation of Nature and Natural Resources and the List of rare, threatened andendemic plants of Europe (Phitos et al, 1985; Walter, 1999; Council of Europe, 1982).Legal protection status indicated using data of Bern Convention, CITES - The Conventionon International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, EU Habitats’Directive annexes and the 67/1981 Presidential decree (Bern Convention, 1992; CITES,1975; Daris et al, 1997; PD 67/1981).New Product Development process for floricultural products An exploratory research strategy was adopted to determine the best researchdesign, the data collection method and selection of subjects, in order to generate realworld experience as a basis for theory development (Gummesson, 2000; Van Aken, 2001;Tranfield, 2002a; Tranfield, 2002b). Secondary research was conducted reviewing theavailable data of the existing literature, based on primary – reports, theses, e-mails,conferences reports, company reports, government publications- secondary – newspapersbooks, journals, internet - and tertiary – indexes, abstracts, bibliographies and citationindexes (Fig. 1) (Gummesson, 2000). In addition the research team used a case study.This case study referred to the model strategy for NPD applied by “VITRO Hellas”, acompany operating in Greek floricultural sector which produces plant propagationmaterial (Robson, 1993; Gummesson, 2000; Danneels, 2003). The interview schedulewas focused on questions related to: (a) what is meant by the term NFC (Roh andLawson, 1987; Reimherr, 1989), (b) the usage of Product Innovation Protocol (PIC)(Crawford and Di Benedetoo, 2000), (c) the kind of NPD process model (Hart, 1993), (d)
methods of NPD process (Crawford and Di Benedetoo, 2000) and (e) company’soperational strategy model (Australian New Crops, 2000). In the second step, this theory – model strategy was proposed to the company inorder to be implemented in close co-operation with the Laboratory. Following the firstfour phases of NPD process, using the evaluation results, the company came up with apreliminary suggestion of twenty species. The Laboratory reduced this list to 16 speciesusing certain horticultural criteria such as propagation, resistance to common pests anddiseases, speed of plant growth and aesthetic characters (Armitage, 1998). TheLaboratory produced adequate propagation protocols for these species in order to givethem to the company for final development and launch.RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONEvaluation of collected species Maintenance of the collected native species takes place by the Laboratory –BBGK in the form of (a) living plant collection of mother plants, (b) seeds, (c) driedspecimens (herbarium) and (d) in vitro plantlets. Currently 1750 accession numbers ofmother plants and 284 accession numbers of nursery plants are maintained in pots. Onehundred and seventeen accession numbers of mother plants are conserved and planted inthe gardens. Of these, 72 accession are Orchidaceae and 3 accession are water lovingplants. BBGK has more than 750 accession numbers of dried specimens and more than2000 accession numbers of seeds. Nine important species include Centaurea cithaeronea,Centaurea subsericans, Achillea occulta, Lilium martagon, Astragalus maniaticus,Campanula incurva, Aubrieta erubenscens, Origanum dictamus, Dianthus crinitus aremaintained in vitro. Results showed that from the two thousand five hundred (2500) accessionnumbers maintained by BBGK, three hundred ninety (390) are important according to theendemism and the degree of threat as defined by IUCN criteria, corresponding to fifty(50) families and one hundred thirty one (131) different taxa (Krigas et al., 2006).New Product Development process for floricultural products The hermeneutical approach was adopted for this study because our pre-understanding of the subject was rather low which made it hard to adopt certain modelsand theories from the beginning (Davenport and Prusak, 1998). The inductive researchbased on observations and data collection has lead to the development of generalstatements - theory about the subject under examination (Mayer, 1998). Results showed that there is a problem in indicating what is meant with the termNFC. VITRO Hellas, as well as other companies all over the world, considers the termproducts new to the firm but not new to the market. Observations and answers of thequestionnaire indicated that as far as the new product strategy is concerned, companiesconstruct an incomplete form of Product Innovation Charter. The NPD model, whichcurrently used by VITRO Hellas is the sequential stage. Although such simple linearmodels are not a true representation of reality, other findings showed that differentcarriers implement the whole process. Research Institutes and Universities are taking partin the process but also follow a sequential-stage model. Furthermore, VITRO Hellas doesnot follow the exact steps proposed in the literature as far as the methods of NPD concern.VITRO Hellas is really doing an unorganised market screening. Concept evaluation takesplace in the sense of consulting the growers are speaking with the marketing sector, but
not utilizing the application of a standard structured method. The origin of the motherplant material is of great importance because it affects the procedure of conceptgeneration and development. Then a protocol is developed and the developmental phasefocus on investigating information related to control flowering time, manipulate plantsize, mass propagation and provide repeatable schedules of a new flower crop. Incontrast, prototyping and market testing are absent. With the assistance of a marketingplan the commercialization phase starts. Market testing takes place in the form of smalltest commodity loads to certain nursery firms. Finally regarding company’s operationalstrategy model findings showed that it uses a mixture of supply-led and demand-ledmodel but not in a defined way. Revising the findings of the current study and with the assistance of an establishedtheoretical framework, a customized theory-model strategy for New Flower CropDevelopment is proposed. Therefore, innovation becomes successful by using anintegrated strategy, which joins together the “technology-push” and the “market-pull”models or in other words the supply-led and the demand-led models. However, thefloricultural industry uses an interactive model, which will combine research withtechnology and the customers’ needs and desires (Australian New Crops, 2000).Networking of the involved carriers is an essential part of the road to success.Communication has to flow across the whole network horizontally, from the customerperceptions to the final product, involving all the functions of the process chain, as well asvertically, from the top management to the last worker (Trott, 2002; Thomke and vonHippel, 2002; Franke and Piller, 2003). A stage-gate model is the tool for innovation forsuch an industry. In the end of each of the phases of NPD process, there is a gate, acheckpoint (Trott, 1998). The project leader and the whole team must bring a set ofknown deliverables to each gate, before the project is able to pass to the next stage. Across-functional team (consisting of marketers, researchers, design and manufacturingengineers, component suppliers from other companies, production workers, accountants,salespersons and service representatives) is required (Hart, 1993). The phases and themethods of this customized theory – model are presented in Fig. 2 (Zervaki, 2001). During the next step, VITRO Hellas applied this theory – model NPD process forNFC in close co-operation with the Laboratory. The company based on the evaluationresults and having implement the first four phases of NPD process, arise to somepreliminary results of twenty (20) promising species. Further horticultural evaluation tookplace by the Laboratory resulting in sixteen (16) species with potential forcommercialization (Table. 1) and specifically as pot plants and/or plants for landscapeuse. The Laboratory developed propagation protocols for the above mentioned speciesintending to give them to the company for mass production. In parallel field testing insmall scale is taking place for these species. The other sub-stages of the developmentphase as well as the other phases of the proposed NPD process will be invoked in the nearfuture and the results will be presented.Literature CitedArmitage, A.M. 1987. What is a new crop? Acta Horticulturae, Vol 205, pp.1-2.Armitage, A.M. 1998. Protocols for evaluating new crops: the new crop program at the university of Georgia. Acta Horticulturae, Vol 454, pp. 51-262.Australian New Crops. 2000. www.newcrops.uq.edu.au/people/peo-13.htm.Bern Convention, 1992. www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/trtdocs_wo001.html
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Figures Value NPD process + Innovation + Floricultural Industry Conceptual pre-understanding NFC Development process Literature review Data collection about of NPD process NFC Case study research in general + Development processes. + (exploration I) Step 1 Towards the development of theory strategy for NFCD process as innovation tool Exploration of the NFCD process at VITRO Hellas (exploration II) Step 2 Further research directionsFig. 1. The exploratory research process. Phases of NPD process for NFC development Methods of NPD process in NFC development Market analysis for background Product innovation charter information Market analysis Market research – to all stages of NPD process of New Crops Problem-based – Perceptual gap analysis – Economic analysis of New Trade-off analysis – dimensional analysis – Crops Relationship analysis selected from market analysis Formation of crop profile. Usage of Concept testing to select the more scoring models such as Profile sheet promising and Analytical Hierarchy Process. Pre-screening to certain characteristics Plant Prototype Development: collection – propagation – investigation of agronomic potential – breeding and selection for improved characteristics – mass propagation – field testing in small scale – field evaluation Launch: marketing plan – regional and commercial-scale testing – final commercialization Product lifecycle: collection of lifecycle dataFig. 2. Phases and methods of NPD process for NFC.