Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
In 2011, the National Science Foundation established the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program to prepare scientists and engineers to extend their efforts beyond university laboratories and to help them accelerate the economic and societal benefits of NSF-funded research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization . Each NSF I-Corps team has three primary members: an academic lead, an entrepreneurial lead, and an I-Corps mentor. All three members of the team participate in the I-Corps Curriculum, which provides real-world, hands-on immersive learning about what it takes to successfully transfer knowledge into products and processes that benefit society . To date, more than 1,000 I-Corps teams have completed the “canonical” I-Corps Curriculum delivered at the I-Corps Nodes, with various degrees of commercialization success. A given team’s success depends on many external factors, such as the entrepreneurial and investment ecosystem, as well as easy access to customers. Our hypothesis is that internal team factors, such as interpersonal interactions and individual cognitive differences, may be equally important. As a matter of fact, the internal team structure is something that all NSF I-Corps teams across the country have in common.
The success of any entrepreneurial team (including an I-Corps team) is highly dependent on their ability to integrate and leverage the diverse skills, experiences, and individual characteristics of their members in productive ways, and to communicate and synthesize their ideas effectively throughout the entrepreneurial life cycle. Until recently, however, tracking the dynamics of these interactions was difficult to do in sufficient detail to understand exactly how ideas move through these teams and who is most likely to respond in different ways. The introduction of the Interaction Dynamics Notation (IDN) enables researchers to identify specific interaction behaviors within a team and to relate those behaviors to team members’ individual characteristics and perceptions, as well as team outcomes.
In this pilot study, we used IDN to explore the dynamic interactions of five NSF I-Corps teams engaged in a simple design activity and related those interaction data to cognitive characteristics of the team members, team design outcomes, and individual perceptions related to the experience. The individual cognitive characteristics we assessed included cognitive style, as measured by the Kirton Adaption-Innovation inventory (KAI), while team design outcomes included the novelty, usefulness, and feasibility of each team solution. Individual perceptions included emotional state; overlap with other team members; relative effectiveness of team experience; novelty, feasibility, and usefulness of design solutions; and degree of coping behavior required. Our findings suggest that IDN can be adapted to the study of entrepreneurial teams and their outcomes. The results of this study demonstrate the viability of this approach to investigate the dynamic interactions of NSF I-Corps teams, as well as product-focused design teams in general.
 National Science Foundation, Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, web site, www.nsf.gov/i-corps.
Jablokow, K. W., & Sonalkar, N., & Avdeev, I., & Thompson, B. D., & Megahed, M. M., & Pachpute, P. S. (2018, June), Exploring the Dynamic Interactions and Cognitive Characteristics of NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Teams Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30497
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