Date of Original Version

3-2008

Type

Working Paper

Abstract or Table of Contents

Functional diversity is central to the performance of product development teams in that multiple perspectives increase the team’s creativity. Failures in cross-functional product development teams (CFPDTs) are often attributed to a team’s inability to capitalize on their diversity. In this study we develop and test a model based on the representational gaps perspective (Cronin & Weingart, 2007a; Weingart, Cronin, Houser, Cagan, & Vogel, 2005) to determine factors that promote or limit creativity in CFPDTs. In particular we examine how representational gaps and cognitive and affective integration in CFPDTs affect coordination and conflict, which in turn influence the novelty and usefulness of the products designed. Furthermore, we investigate when conflict resulting from the representational gaps stimulates or harms creativity. We test these relationships using a path analysis on data across two time periods from cross-functional product development student teams. Representational gaps, affective integration, and cognitive integration were found to collectively improve team creativity via task conflict, relationship conflict, and coordination. Representational gaps and cognitive integration largely influenced creativity through task conflict, coordination, and conflict management. Affective integration operated via its effect on relationship conflict and an interactive effect with cognitive integration on task conflict. Furthermore, the effects of conflict and coordination on creativity depended on the conflict management approach used by the group. We discuss these findings in detail and end by considering the implications for the management of cross functional teams engaged in potentially creative work.

Comments

Tepper Working Paper #2008-E11