Portland State University. Systems Science Ph. D. Program
Lewis N. Goslin
Date of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science: Business Administration
Systems Science: Business Administration
Sales personnel, Sales personnel -- Attitudes, New products -- Development
3, 9, 231 leaves: ill. 28 cm.
The strongest correlate of new product success is understanding of market requirements early in the new product development (NPD) process. This is true in high technology environments where rapid change and chaotic market conditions prevail. Although a firm's salesforce is viewed as one of many sources of new product ideas and market information, the involvement of salespeople in NPD activities varies widely across firms. This study examines salesforce involvement in a firm's NPD predevelopment activities, i.e. idea generation and screening, preliminary market assessment, and concept evaluation. Because of the limits of existing research in this area, a two-phase research design was used. The first phase developed a scale for measuring salesforce involvement in NPD predevelopment activities. This scale was incorporated into a study model. The second phase tested the study model, a linkage of salesperson involvement level to organization and individual salesperson attributes. The scale-development sample consisted of 136 sales professionals. The resulting scale was a nineteen item, multi-dimensional measure incorporating three factors of involvement: involvement initiated by the salesperson, involvement initiated by NPD-Organization, and a salesperson's cognitive interest in NPD involvement. In the second phase of the study, a sample of 248 salespeople from nineteen companies completed self-administered written surveys. At the organization attribute level, the length of the NPD cycle was significantly associated with involvement subscale measures. In particular, the longer a firm's NPD cycle for product improvements, the less involvement the salesforce has in NPD-headquarters initiated involvement activities. A similar significant relationship exists between a firm's new product cycle time and the level of involvement in salesforce-initiated NPD predevelopment activities. At the study model's salesperson level, a series of factors were associated to NPD team-initiated and salesforce-initiated involvement subscales. These factors are a salesperson's: customer orientation, location distance from NPD, level of feedback from NPD, membership on NPD teams, knowledge of where to send NPD-related information, and belief that information communicated to NPD will be appropriately used. Study findings suggest that organizations can affect the degree of involvement that their salesforce or individual salespeople has in early phases of NPD.
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Petersen, Candace, "Salesforce Involvement in New Product Predevelopment Activities of High Technology Firms" (1996). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1153.