Exploring the responsibilities and tasks of apparel product developers

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Payne, Meegan
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Ellen McKinney
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

Apparel product development research explores factors that enable product development; however, product developers’ experiences and perspectives remain unaddressed. Better understanding of product developers’ experiences and perspectives during apparel product development can improve firm processes and offer curricular insights to academic programs. The research streams of apparel product development and the theoretical frameworks of work analysis, microfoundations, dynamic capabilities, and innovation were reviewed to facilitate data interpretation. With the approval of the Institutional Review Board, semi-structured interviews were completed with product developers of apparel sports firms. Sampling was purposeful with some snowball sampling. Zoom Video was utilized to conduct the interviews, the interviews were conducted during the participants’ personal time. Audio was recorded, and a transcription generated using the Rev.com service. The audio and transcription files were stored on a password-protected computer. Participants were designated as a number to assure anonymity during the transcription and data analysis processes. This qualitative dissertation entails two manuscripts that utilize the theories of work analysis and dynamic capabilities to study how product developers at sports apparel firms contribute to processes and innovation during product development. In the first manuscript, a process model of product development according to product developers’ experiences at sports apparel firms was formulated. The process model of product development according to product developers’ experiences included six phases: Product ideation, product requirements, prototype review and analysis, sample review, style and fit perfecting, and production. Inhibitors of product developers’ microfoundations of dynamic capabilities included lack of time, lack of resources, and being a new employee. In the second manuscript, inhibitors, facilitators, and occurrences of dynamic capabilities are proposed. The results of both studies increase understanding of apparel product development, a complex and collaborative process. Facilitators of product developers’ microfoundations of dynamic capabilities were firm initiatives, personal interests, a sense of pride and passion, feelings of excitement, and fun. Product developers experienced sensing during discussions with colleagues and interactions with athletes. They encountered seizing throughout the product development process. Product developers were able to reconfigure when it was within the scope of their responsibilities. Findings provide an updated and more nuanced understanding of apparel product development. Future research could confirm the process model through quantitative analysis, identify product developers' competencies, and explore the perceived role of product developers.

Tue Dec 01 00:00:00 UTC 2020