Doctor of Philosophy
School of Management and Marketing
Rowland, Janette, Does a climate of trust enhance cross-functional relationships during new product development, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of Management and Marketing, University of Wollongong, 2012. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/3742
The working relationship between functional specialists at a New Product Development (NPD) project level has been examined in the literature for decades with the aim of understanding their impact on NPD success. The focus of much of this literature has been on “integration methods” which promote information sharing and interaction among participants, with other interpersonal considerations such as trust often being viewed as a “by product” of these approaches. Recent organisational research suggests that trust may play a more significant role in organisations than previously thought. Also evident in existing research is that “soft” tools such as “climate” and “trust” are not as readily apparent or measurable as other more traditional organisational mechanisms. The study presented in this thesis reconceptualises the climate of trust between the cross-functional specialists involved in NPD drawing on a collaboration integration framework to identify and refine the variables associated with a climate of trust. It uses a qualitative approach based on an explanatory case study method to propose a model of the antecedents and consequences needed to develop a climate of trust associated with positive NPD outcomes. It is the first time that the climate of trust is explicitly considered as to its impact on NPD outcomes. This study highlights the importance of understanding the complexities of organisational trust and the role that management play in creating an NPD environment conducive to the development of trust. The results reveal that the collective perceptions of the members of the NPD project team regarding faith in management, faith in the NPD process as well as the level of functional identification impacts on the development of a climate of trust within NPD, which in turn impacts on the collaborative behaviours of the individuals involved. If such a climate can be developed and nurtured, the potential outcomes are collaborative behaviours such as maximised cross-functional communication and cooperation, minimised cross-functional conflict and ultimately NPD success. The results also provide a greater understanding as to the management decisions and NPD process factors that impact on the perceptions required for the development of a climate of trust. A “toolbox” is provided as a guide to the types of mechanisms that managers can implement to develop a climate of trust within NPD that will encourage collaborative behaviours and ultimately improve NPD success.