Realizing the Need for Rework in New Product Development: From Task Interdependence to Social Networks
INSEAD Working Paper 2011/79/TOM revised version of 2010/68/TOM
We take a behavioral perspective to study an important organizational phenomenon in new product development (NPD) organizations: realizing the need for rework. We characterize the types of interpersonal knowledge transfer that help developers recognize the need for design rework in new product development. Although realizing the need for rework might initially be perceived as negative (since it typically triggers the full or partial repetition of tasks that were considered to be done), it is ultimately positive because such corrective or completion actions lead to higher-quality products. As predicted by the NPD literature, we find that individuals who interact with colleagues with whom they share high levels of task interdependence are more likely to realize the need for rework. We also learn that interacting with colleagues who have nonredundant areas of expertise facilitates rework realization. However, to truly understand how individuals realize the need for rework, we must expand our views beyond task interdependence and expertise-related factors. Behavioral variables matter significantly. We find how and why the social embeddedness of developers (the energy and attention invested in a dyadic relationship) significantly influences their propensity to realize the need for rework. Hypotheses are tested in a sociometric study conducted within the development department of a software company, and we discuss the implications for behavioral operations in new product development.