Politics in new product development projects: a study of technical and marketing managers' perceptions and their effects on communication and collaboration
The development and introduction of new goods and services determines the nature of operations conducted within organizations, and hence is a critical determinant of operations management. New product development (NPD) is widely seen as vital to the success of organizations, especially for those operating under conditions of increasing competition (such as manufacturing firms), and a growing body of research has developed aimed at understanding the factors contributing to new product success. One line of inquiry in this area has emphasised cross-functional integration, notably that between the Marketing and technical functions such as R&D, as a key success factor. According to this perspective, such integration, involving high levels of communication, cooperation and collaboration among personnel from different functional areas (most often characterised by differing cultures, with differing values, interests, goals, hierarchies, jargon and reward systems) is essential to ensure that key marketing and technical information informs the development process, specialised knowledge and skills can be utilised effectively, misunderstandings are reduced, and all can work together effectively towards a common goal. However, one less studied aspect of the interpersonal relationships across functions engaged in NPD is that of intra-organizational politics, i.e. NPD decision making is an intrinsically political process as self-interested individuals and managers jockey for position, compete for resources, and seek to protect their sectional interests, reputations and career prospects. Drawing on pioneering work by Hendry (1988, 1990), Maute and Locander (1994), and Jones and Stevens (1999), our study sought to address this knowledge gap by examining the effect of technical and marketing managers' views of each others political behaviour on their communication and collaboration during NPD projects.