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Collaboration in Cross-Functional Product Innovation Teams

Innovation through Collaboration

ISBN: 978-0-76231-331-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-430-0

Publication date: 16 October 2006


High-technology firms often institute cross-functional teams to manage product innovation initiatives. The assumption is that (a) creative and successful products from new technologies must reflect the integration of multiple talents, therefore the innovation process will require integration among people who possess them, and (b) when people with multiple talents are placed in teams, they will interact, cross-fertilize ideas, and collaborate to produce creative new products from new technologies faster and cheaper than those produced by alternative structural arrangements. While teams are easy to institute, fostering high levels of collaboration among participants has proved harder in practice. While some teams achieve high levels of collaboration, others merely replicate rivalries that exist in the organization and breed cynicism.

Based on our study of product innovation processes in high-technology industrial manufacturers, this chapter discusses the differences between high- and low-collaboration teams. Specifically, we report the key (a) developmental milestones in the process by which groups of people from diverse functional areas become high-collaboration teams and create new products faster and cheaper, and (b) factors associated with participants, team leaders, senior management, and the organizational culture that seem to shape the emergence of collaboration in teams.


Jassawalla, A.R. and Sashittal, H.C. (2006), "Collaboration in Cross-Functional Product Innovation Teams", Beyerlein, M.M., Beyerlein, S.T. and Kennedy, F.A. (Ed.) Innovation through Collaboration (Advances in Interdisciplinary Studies of Work Teams, Vol. 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 1-25.



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