The purpose of this paper is to propose a systematic and rigorous process of data collection and fieldwork in qualitative research using four empirical studies of customer interactions in new product development (NPD) as examples. The intention is to dispel a misconception that the qualitative research lacks objectivity and methodological robustness.
To collect data for all the four studies a preliminary process of conducting fieldwork was first developed from the extant literature. This preliminary framework was applied in the first study and subsequently revised twice in the second and third study by incorporating necessary changes and additions. Finally, the framework was tested and further refined in the fourth study.
The findings from these four empirical qualitative studies have demonstrated that a theory generating idiographic research such as field interviews could be carried out systematically. These findings also provide a basis for proposing a structured framework for data collection.
The paper is based only on business‐to‐business NPD. Therefore, to increase the applicability of the results more studies are needed in other business and marketing fields.
The results offer an in‐depth look at specific research activities that can be carried out for efficient idea generation work and the overall NPD efforts.
The framework reported in this paper allows for an iterative data collection process from multiple respondents and from multiple sources. This method of data collection is a key issue because product managers tend to interact with the customers and other partners repeatedly and throughout the NPD process. Thus the product managers would find this framework useful for research involving NPD and customer interactions.
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