Self-efficacy in new product development teams

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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In the constantly globalizing world of complex problems, there is a growing demand for educational methods for preparing students to face real life challenges. This thesis focuses on discovering perceived self-efficacy in new product development teams. The study was conducted among students who were taking part in a Master's-level course that involves intensive teamwork in interdisciplinary and international product development teams. The research presents self-efficacy as key factor for self-development through practical learning. In addition, self-efficacy beliefs are considered having an influence on development of entrepreneurial behavior and intentions since the process of product development and new venture creation can be seen very similar. Classic and current research trends in related fields of study are used to provide understanding about the role of perceived self-efficacy and entrepreneurial mindset in product development process. The studied course is open-ended, lasts for whole academic year and is part of the product development major at Aalto University. The educational methods used in the course base on project oriented problem-based learning and the course exploits a design-thinking innovation process. The data used in this study was gathered during academic year of 2014-2015, from nine students in three teams based on interest. Semi-structured interviews were used as a method in data gathering. Three interviewees were project managers and six were team members. First, the data was analyzed by thematic analysis approach. This thesis first introduces the product development models used during the course work. Then, Albert Bandura's theory of self-efficacy is presented as well as its relation to entrepreneurial behavior and intention theories. This theoretical background is used to reflect findings of this particular study. More precisely this study aims to discover: (1.) What kinds of situations affect the self-efficacy of team members during a product development process? and (2.) How interaction and emotions affect team member's perceived self-efficacy during a product development process? The findings suggest that the students face various interaction points and go through emotional processes influencing perceived self-efficacy. In addition, this work-in-progress analysis presents that soft and interactions skills are in fact in the core of confidence in product development project work whereas product development is traditionally seen as a mix of professional as well as practical skills.
entrepreneurship, new product development, self-efficacy, teamwork
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