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Using needs assessment as a learning tool in the product development process: A case study of a quick service restaurant chain

Denise M. Cumberland (Department of Leadership, Foundations and Human Resource Education, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
Rod P. Githens (Department of Leadership, Foundations and Human Resource Education, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA, and Department of Policy, Organization & Leadership, School of Education, Drexel University, Sacramento, CA, USA)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 7 October 2014

1338

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this case study was threefold. First, to examine whether a needs assessment can work in the context of an organization’s new product development process to identify the gap between what “is” occurring and what “should” be occurring. Second, to investigate how a well-known stakeholder classification system can be adopted in a practitioner setting. Third, to identify why the new product development process derailed in a quick-service restaurant chain.

Design/methodology/approach

A Fortune 200 quick-service restaurant chain provided the setting for a case study on the new product development (NPD) process. Data were gathered from multiple stakeholder groups using interviews and a survey questionnaire.

Findings

Findings support the adaptability of needs assessment as a learning tool to help organizations identify and address performance gaps. A second finding was the applicability of the Mitchell et al. (1997) classification system to identify and prioritize groups of stakeholders. Finally, this study revealed that the specific activities involved in the NPD process were not codified, and that the restaurant chains cross-functional team was not adhering to the process due to a lack of training.

Research limitations/implications

The specific setting may limit the generalizability of findings. Future research could determine the applicability in other settings.

Practical implications

This study provides useful insights for applying needs assessments in conjunction with a stakeholder analysis when problems arise in the product development process.

Originality/value

The study contributes to understanding around product development learning tools and provides impetus for the adoption of needs assessments and stakeholder analysis when deficiencies in the process occur.

Keywords

Citation

M. Cumberland, D. and P. Githens, R. (2014), "Using needs assessment as a learning tool in the product development process: A case study of a quick service restaurant chain", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 26 No. 8, pp. 529-544. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-04-2013-0026

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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