The Relationship between Team Autonomy and New Product Development Performance under Different Levels of Technological Turbulence
Journal of Operations Management (Forthcoming)
44 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2010 Last revised: 3 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 2, 2014
Operations management researchers have frequently suggested that autonomy can motivate teams to actively and flexibly adapt to fast-changing environments, fostering innovation and creative problem solving. However, empirical studies have not consistently supported the benefits of team autonomy. We articulate the behavioral and mechanistic effects of team autonomy by integrating operations management and behavioral literatures. Further, we view team autonomy as a bipolar factor and argue that both the behavioral and mechanistic effects of team autonomy on operational outcomes are non-linear. Drawing on information processing theory, we propose that the benefits of team autonomy depend on the degree of technological turbulence. A study of 212 new product development projects supports these propositions. Specifically, the relationship between team autonomy and operational outcomes is ∩-shaped in technologically turbulent environments and U-shaped in technologically stable environments. Further, operational outcomes mediate the relationships between team autonomy and product success. We discuss the theoretical implications regarding new product development, operations management, the bipolarity of autonomy, and information-processing theory.
Keywords: Team autonomy; behavioral effect; mechanistic effect; technological turbulence; new product development
JEL Classification: M11, M13, M31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation