Monday, July 9, 2012

SOSA Manuel
Realizing the Need for Rework: From Task Interdependence to Social Networks
INSEAD Working Paper 2012/67/TOM revised version of 2011/79/TOM

Design rework is a core phenomenon in new product development. Yet carrying out design rework presupposes recognizing the need for it. We characterize the types of interpersonal knowledge transfer that help developers realize the need for design rework in new product development (NPD). Although realizing the need for rework might initially be perceived as negative (since it triggers the repetition of tasks that were once considered finished), it is ultimately positive because the resulting (corrective or completion) actions lead to higher-quality products. As predicted by the NPD literature, we find that individuals who interact frequently with colleagues to address their task interdependences are more likely to realize the need for rework. We also learn that interacting with colleagues who have different expertise in process-related knowledge (as opposed to product-related knowledge) facilitates realizing the need for rework. However, to develop a deeper understanding of how individuals recognize the need for rework when interacting with others, we must expand our views beyond task interdependence and expertise-related factors. In particular, organizational variables—both formal and informal—play a significant role. With respect to formal hierarchical structures, actors of superior rank are less likely to realize the need for rework regardless of whether or not their interacting partner is of superior rank; however, actors of superior rank are more likely to trigger realizing the need for rework when interacting with partners of subordinate rank. By examining an organization’s informal structure, we discover that the social “embeddedness” of developers (i.e., the energy and attention invested in a dyadic relationship) significantly influences their propensity to realize the need for rework. Several related hypotheses are tested in a sociometric study conducted within the development department of a software company, after which we discuss the implications for behavioral operations in new product development.