Team approaches to developing innovative projects and processes

Caird, Sally; Roy, Robin and Wield, David (1997). Team approaches to developing innovative projects and processes. International Journal of Innovation Management, 1(4) pp. 333–354.



International competitiveness, accelerated by the impact of new technologies, has pressurised industry to meet the challenges for higher productivity, faster product cycles, higher levels of quality and lower costs in increasingly internationalised markets. Multi-functional teams have been heralded as a management solution and an innovative organisational approach to address these challenges. This paper summarises the findings from a research programme which aimed to identify the most appropriate team approaches for co-ordinating innovative product/process developments and for enhancing their success. It is based on case studies of environmental technology projects in 25 companies in the United Kingdom. Team approaches were broadly classified as "single-disciplinary", "multi-disciplinary" or "multi-functional" according to members' expertise and innovation function, which could be more or less integrated. The research findings emphasised the diversity of organisational teams which varied according to different projects, organisational, inter-organisational and market conditions, and were more complex when several departments, teams or companies were involved. The findings revealed that multi-functional teams were important in achieving success in open markets, because of their control over appropriate expertise, even though they did not guarantee commercial success. Integrated team approaches were not sufficient for achieving susscess, although most companies regarded their teams as necessary.

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