Interpersonal trust between marketing and R&D during new product development projects
Purpose – The primary objective of this research is to test a model examining interpersonal trust between marketing managers and R&D managers during new product development projects. Design/methodology/approach – In this study interpersonal trust as a bi-dimensional construct with cognitive and affective components is conceptualised. The authors' integrative structural model specifies Weber's structural/bureaucratic dimensions – formalisation and centralisation to predict three communication dimensions, communication frequency, quality, and bi-directionality. In turn these communication dimensions are used to predict cognition-based trust, and affect-based trust. In addition, the paper models the direct effects of the three communication dimensions on a dependent variable – perceived relationship effectiveness. The hypothesised model consists of 16 hypotheses, seven of which relate to the two focal interpersonal trust constructs. The measures were tested and a structural model estimated by using PLS. Data were provided by 184 R&D managers in Australia, reporting on their working relationship with a counterpart marketing manager during a recent product development project. Findings – The hypothesized model has high explanatory power and it was found that both trust dimensions strongly influenced the effectiveness of marketing/R&D relationships during new product development, with cognition-based trust having the strongest impact. The results also reveal which forms of communication help to build interpersonal trust. The most powerful effect was from communication quality to cognition-based trust. The next strongest effects were from bi-directional communication, which was a strong predictor of affect-based trust, and a somewhat weaker predictor of cognition-based trust. Interestingly, the direct effects of our three communication behaviours on relationship effectiveness were modest, suggesting that their relationship building effects are largely indirect. Last, it is revealed that bureaucratic means of control on product development projects have mixed effects. As expected, centralisation reduces cross-functional communication. In contrast, formalisation has a positive effect during product development, as it stimulates both the frequency and bi-directionality of communication between marketing managers and R&D managers on these projects. Originality/value – This is the first study to treat interpersonal trust as the focal construct in marketing/R&D relationships during new product development. Moreover, it is the only study of marketing/R&D relationships to conceptualise, measure, and model two underlying dimensions of interpersonal trust (cognition-based trust, and affect-based trust). Our study also integrates aspects of Weber's theory of bureaucracy, with interaction theory, and demonstrates the strong links between these theoretical frameworks.