The importance of face-to-face and virtual teams in product development is well recognised in the research and practice. Engineering teams are often used in dynamic environments that require adaptation and constant change due to external and internal circumstances; they have to adjust to changes in market trends, respond to new customer's requirements and adapt to changing technologies or resources constraints. As the research field concerning engineering teams develops, it continues to require interdisciplinary approaches to understand, model and improve the role of the teamwork in product development. However, since there are numerous factors influencing teamwork and the mutual effects of these factors depend on time and context, understanding and predicting face-to-face and virtual team performance is exceptionally challenging, and there are insufficient research studies.
The goal of the proposed research project is the development of the research framework for experimental studies of engineering teams (both face-to-face and virtual). This framework should serve as the foundation for enhancement of the usage and effectiveness of teams within innovation-oriented product development projects. The proposed project will contribute to both the theory and practice by bringing together interdisciplinary research, conceptualization and modelling approaches and it will build on the results of the CSF project MINMED 2014-2018 (www.minmed.org). During the project, the Design Science Research (DSR) framework consisting of the three related cycles of research activities (relevance, design and rigour cycle) will be applied as the research methodology, while experimental design research will be the primary research paradigm including experimentation with the real-world teams in DEPICT lab and CADLab and computational simulations of the teams’ emergent properties.
The results of the proposed research are expected to delineate how empirical research and computational simulations can lead to better understanding, modelling, reflection on and improvement of team adaptability as one of the most important emergent properties of the engineering teams in relation to innovation. The resulting computational tools should enable researchers and practitioners from the industry to utilise simulations to understand the role that the different types of disruption triggers have on the resulting team adaptation, as well as for prediction of the impact that different levels of the team adaptability may have on various teamwork outputs.
The research will be conducted by a multidisciplinary research group including the researchers and research infrastructure for experimentation from Croatia, USA, Denmark and Sweden.