Author(s), Title and Publication
Lovelace, K.; Shapiro, D. L.; & Weingart, L. R. (2001). Maximizing cross-functional new product teams’ innovativeness and constraint adherence: A conflict communications perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 44(4), 779-793
This study examined the impact of team diversity on team performance. Due to increasing competition resulting from market globalization and changing technologies, companies increasingly rely on cross-functional teams to develop innovative products efficiently. Yet the inevitable disagreements in cross-functional teams, which consist of members from different disciplines and functions, may prevent achieving the goal. This study developed a model of conflict communication and performance in cross-functional new product teams by investigating whether task disagreements can bring positive outcomes. The authors surveyed 43 teams (a total of 328 team members) from 16 high-technology firms by mail, and measured team functional diversity, task disagreements, communication during conflict, freedom to express doubts, leader effectiveness. Managers of the teams evaluated the teams’ performance, including innovativeness and constraint adherence (holding on budgets and schedules).
Results showed that teams with greater levels of functional diversity are likely to have more task disagreements. But a team may still have great performance if team members communicate collaboratively or less contentiously on task disagreements, team members feel free to express task-related doubts, and the team leader is effective in leadership.
Implications for Practice
To help a cross-functional team work efficiently, team leader may want to encourage collaborative communication and minimize contentious communication about disagreements within the team, encourage team members to express doubts about tasks, clarify individual responsibilities, provide clear and complete performance evaluation feedback, emphasize group relationships, and trust each member.
Location of Article
The article is available online at: http://www.aom.pace.edu/amj/August2001/lovelace.pdf (Full text)