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Innovation at Large

Managing Multi-Organization, Multi-Team Projects


Johanna Schönrok

Due to increasing complexity in new product development multi-organization, multi-team (MOMT) projects are becoming more common. They are formed in different industries like computer, automotive, aircraft, and space research. Since many of these projects still fail, more knowledge on the influences on performance in and of such projects is required in order to be able to manage them successfully. The author examines the influences of communication within and between teams on team and project performance, which in turn depends on applied design principles that structure and facilitate that information flow. Quantitative and qualitative analyses reveal that there are differential relations on the team and project level as well as for effectiveness and efficiency. Managerial implications are given of how to structure MOMT projects and the design problem-solving process and thereby facilitate the information flow within and between teams in order to make the teams and projects successful.


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. 163 Summary Research Objective The objective of this research was to gain more knowledge on the influences on performance in and of multi-organization, multi-team (MOMT) projects: How can the many teams perform well separately (team performance) and in collaboration (project performance)? Due to increasing complexity in new product development (NPD) these projects are increasingly formed to have access to the distributed specialized expertise required for solving the numerous diverse complex design tasks. However, many MOMT projects still fail. So far, not much research has been done on these projects. In recent years, there have been studies either on multi-team projects within a single organization (e.g., Hoegl et al., 2004; Hoegl and Weinkauf, 2005; Kazanjian et al., 2000; Sosa et al., 2004) or on a single multi-organization team (e.g., Majchrzak et al., 2000; Malhotra et al., 2001). There are a few case studies on multi-organization, multi-team projects (e.g., Argyres, 1999; O’Sullivan, 2003). To make a contribution to NPD literature, in this research several relevant variables with an (in)direct influence on team and project performance are identified and studied. Unlike most other studies applying a global performance measure, here performance is measured by two dimensions representing the typical challenges of NPD projects – i.e., meeting product specifications and requirements (effectiveness) and being on time and within budget (efficiency) – to reveal differential relationships. Research has shown that communication has an influence on performance (e.g., Allen, 1977; Dougherty, 1992; Kratzer, 2001). In MOMT projects team members and teams need to communicate to solve complex...

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