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Managing integration and coordination in cross‐functional teams: an international study of Concurrent Engineering product development

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This study is about the influence of integration and coordination of organisational mechanisms on the effectiveness of the process of product development by cross-functional teams. The sample consists of 50 cross-national Concurrent Engineering (CE) project teams, from companies in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, UK, and USA, in the technology intensive industries of aerospace, automobile, chemical, computer, electronics, shipbuilding, and telecommunications. The study offers a diagnostic tool which measures the effectiveness of the Concurrent Engineering team’s process in terms of the behaviours and attitudes of the engineering/R&D and manufacturing representatives on the product development team: (a) two-way communication, (b) overlapping problems-solving, (c) readiness to use uncertain and ambiguous information released by team counterparts for decision-making, and (d) readiness to release uncertain and ambiguous information to team counterparts. The findings of the study are that integration mechanisms, such as team-based rewards and job rotation, and coordination mechanisms, such as project structure and information technology, and project leader’s management style, support an effective team process, and overcome the negative effect of geographic distance and time-difference in cross-national teams. In addition, there are interesting implications for organisational learning in the practice of Concurrent Engineering for product development, and of the implications of these findings for practice and future research.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Melbourne Business School, The University of Melbourne, 200 Leicester Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia 2: IBM Canada Ltd., 3600 Steeles Avenue East, Markham, Ontario L3R 9Z7, Canada

Publication date: April 1, 1999


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