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Management of dispersed product development teams: the role of information technologies

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In recent years, international corporations such as IBM are increasingly relying on dispersed R&D teams in order to keep pace with resource availability and the demands of global markets. The advantages of this approach arise mainly from the utilization of differences in personnel costs and gaining access to a broader knowledge base to satisfy the demands of international clients. The disadvantages of teams of this kind are obvious: geographic distances, differences in culture and work habits as well as the necessity to bridge time zones place greater demands on communication, synchronization and management.

The application of specific project management methods and the intensive use of information technology (IT) lessens the disadvantages in transnational development projects. Recently completed projects involving large-scale commercial software development at IBM demonstrate the potentials of IT in transnational development. The authors advocate the application of IT adapted to specific situations. The central fields of application of IT in dispersed R&D teams are the development of a personal network, the promotion of creativity, the exchange of technical information, and the coordination of decentralized project activities.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute for Technology Management, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2: Corporate R&D, Schindler Lifts Ltd., 6031 Ebikon, Switzerland, 3: IBM Deutschland Entwicklung GmbH, 71032 Böblingen, Germany

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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