Applying the rational perspective of management innovation, this study examines the influence of management innovation on exploratory and exploitative product innovations. Specifically, we investigate the differential mediating roles of exploratory and exploitative product innovations in linking management innovation to firm performance, in the context of industry competitive intensity. Survey data collected from 303 paired Chinese enterprises confirm our hypotheses. Specifically, management innovation positively affects exploratory and exploitative product innovations, which further improve firm financial and innovative performance. Moreover, the exploratory and exploitative innovations positively mediate the relationship between management innovation and firm performance, but with heterogeneous mediating effects. In addition, industry competitive intensity enhances the mediating effect of exploitative innovations. Our findings contribute to the understanding of firm innovation performance.