Friday, July 6, 2012

SOSA Manuel, GARGIULO Martin, ROWLES Craig
Inter-Team Technical Communication in Complex New Product Development Projects
INSEAD Working Paper 2012/65/TOM/OB revised version of 2011/119/TOM/OB

This paper investigates how the structure of the informal communication network that results from efforts to coordinate task interdependence between design teams in complex new product development efforts may itself moderate the role of task interdependence in explaining the occurrence of inter-team communication. Based on theoretical mechanisms drawn from the social network literature and recent empirical advances in exponential random graphs models of social networks, we investigate how the presence of third parties that are common to the "acquirer" and the "provider" of technical communication in a dyad of interdependent teams moderates the effect of task interdependence in predicting the occurrence of inter-team communication. We test our hypotheses by examining the network of task interdependencies and the technical communication network among teams designing the components of a large commercial aircraft engine. We find that while task interdependence is a significant predictor of communication between teams, task interdependence is less likely to predict interteam communication to the extent that the acquirer team may receive information from the provider team indirectly through common third parties. However, task interdependence is more likely to predict interteam communication if the provider team shares common third parties with the acquirer team, albeit in this case the moderating effect of common third parties is only apparent for strong interdependencies.