Two challenges faced by automotive component design projects within contracted design agencies are (1) specification changes requested by the manufacturers and (2) product information or core technology knowledge leakage to external actors. We examine the effects of targeted boundary activities that address these challenges under the contingencies of environmental uncertainty and project complexity.
Based on Boundary management theory, a bidirectional model of boundary buffering was conceptualized in the context of design agency teams developing automotive components. A survey is derived from the proposed model. Regression analysis is performed using empirical data from 234 auto component design projects in Chinese design agencies.
Boundary buffering activities that strengthen outside-in boundaries and inside-out boundaries directly improve the final design quality. Further, the magnitude of effect for outside-in buffering on design quality is enhanced under environmental uncertainty, while the impact of inside-out buffering on design quality is enhanced under project complexity.
Boundary activities should consider differences in boundary targets, directional flow of information, and context of scope.
Automotive component design agents should attend to both outside-in and inside-out boundary buffering, especially under conditions of environmental uncertainty or project complexity.
The proposed bidirectional view on boundary buffering adds perspective to team boundary management theory. Specific contingencies include common risk elements of project complexity and environmental uncertainty not typically associated with the need for buffering activities.
The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their constructive comments, which helped to improve the quality of this paper. Dr. Xiaosong (Jason) Wu would like to acknowledge the support from the NSFC grants (71722014, 71433001, 91546119). Dr. Wei (Wayne) Huang would like to acknowledge the support from the NSFC and other grants (71731009, 2018WZDXM020, 71732006)
Wu, X., Huang, W., Jiang, J., Klein, G. and Liu, S. (2020), "Boundary buffering: limiting interference and information leakage in design teams", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-03-2019-0180Download as .RIS
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