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Journal of Product Innovation Management 33, 2 (2016) 132-140
This conceptual article builds on existing research on network analysis to examine the possibility that the self-organizing tendencies of communication networks may endogenously affect the likelihood of informal communication between interdependent teams in new product development organizations. Although informal communication between teams emerges out of those teams' effort to coordinate their task interdependencies, the presence of common third parties in the communication network may shape the behavior of teams in ways that makes this communication network depart from the underlying network of technical interdependencies between the teams. In some cases, the presence of a common third party may reinforce the predisposition of interdependent teams to exchange information. In others, it may drive teams to enter exchanges without an apparent technical need to do so. Finally, and more importantly, the presence of a common third party may induce interdependent teams to neglect exchanging information on their technical interdependencies. This possibility is more likely when coordination between two interdependent teams and a common third party can result in cyclic exchanges that can trigger design oscillations affecting the work of the common third party. While these oscillations may be undesirable, efforts to prevent them can result in coordination disruptions that are also undesirable, because they can affect the performance or durability of the affected components and subsystems.