Teamwork quality and the success of innovative projects: A theoretical concept and empirical evidence

The article indicates the importance of teamwork to the success of innovative projects. 

This article develops a comprehensive concept of the collaboration in teams, known as the Teamwork Quality (TWQ). TWQ is constructed based on the six facets, namely communication, coordination, balance of member contributions, mutual support, effort, and cohesion.

Hypotheses

TWQ is positively related to the success of innovative projects.

The diagram below shows the positive relationship between TWQ and the two categories of project success – the Team Performance and Personal success of team members.

 

Two hypotheses to examine the relationship between TWQ and project success include:

HYPOTHESIS 1. TWQ is positively related to the performance of teams with innovative projects.

HYPOTHESIS 2. TWQ is positively related to the personal success of team members.

These hypotheses are tested using the data from 575 team members, team leaders, and managers of 145 German software teams. The results of the structural equation models estimated show that TWQ (as rated by team members) is significantly associated with team performance as rated by team members, team leaders, and team managers.

Teamwork Quality and the Success of Innovative Projects

Intesting our hypotheses we have estimated three structural equation models based on the three different project success ratings:

1)     Model 1: TWQ (evaluated by team members) predicts team members’ self-evaluation of team performance and personal success.

2)     Model 2: TWQ (evaluated by team members) predicts team leaders’ evaluations of team performance.

3)     Model 3: TWQ (evaluated by team members) predicts managers’ evaluations of team performance.

The table below shows the result of the test:

The results of the three models estimated to provide support to Hypothesis 1, proposing a positive influence of TWQ on team performance. The path coefficients from TWQ to team performance are significant on the 1 % level in all three models.

However, there are considerable differences in the magnitude of the relationship between TWQ and team performance as rated by the team members versus team leaders and managers. TWQ explains about 41% of the variance in team performance as rated by the team members, 11 % as rated by the team leaders, and 7% as rated by the managers. These differences may be due to the different viewpoints among managers, team leaders, and team members on team performance.

For instance, the result for Model 1 may be influenced by common source bias, given that both TWQ and the project success constructs are based on team member data. In contrast, manager evaluations of team performance are much less likely to be influenced by implicit theories, given their limited knowledge of the collaborative task processes of individual teams. On the other hand, the results of Models 2 and 3 are not subject to common source bias, as team leaders” and managers” evaluations of team performance are predicted by team members’ evaluations of TWQ.

While recognizing the differences in the extent of the relationships given the different performance evaluations, Hypothesis 1 is supported because TWQ is significantly associated with all ratings of team performance.

On the other hand, hypothesis 2 is strongly supported by the results of Model 1. TWQ shows a very strong association with team members’ personal success (standard coefficient 0.93, 87% variance explained). The results indicate that the quality of collaboration in a team determines the contentment of team members with their work situation to a large degree. In addition, high TWQ fosters learning on the part of the team members, which accommodates the desire for personal and professional growth of the generally highly educated workforce of software development laboratories.

The test results have shown that high TWQ can lead to the success of innovative projects. Do you agree with this? Besides TWQ, what are the other criteria do you think will lead to the success of innovative projects?

Reference:

Hoegl, M., and Gemuenden, H.G. (2001). Teamwork quality and the success of innovative projects: A theoretical concept and empirical evidence. Organization Science 12(4): 435-449

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3 comments so far

  1. janisuhoshi on

    The blogger has given an concise overview of the reading, demonstrating how teamwork quality (TWQ) can impact team performance and work satisfaction, resulting in a successful innovative project.

    I believe that the findings in this research by Hoegl and Gemuenden (2001) can be applied in many situations not limited to innovative projects, like multi-player game play.

    What defines good TWQ? As Hoegl and Gemuenden (2001) has brought up in their paper, good TWQ must have good communication, coordination, balance of member contributions, mutual support, effort and cohesion.

    Good communication: This is the most vital aspect of human relationships. In a team, there is bound to be contact between and among individuals. Communication facilitates understanding of the team’s objectives, goals, tasks etc and good communication minimises misunderstandings that may arise, impeding the progress of a project or task.

    Good coordination: Work processes are planned well so work can be more efficient.

    Balance of member contributions: No one is doing significantly more than the other to avoid overloading one member or under-utilising another member.

    Mutual support and cohesion: This defines the synergy in the team. With good synergy, team members are working with the same spirit and mind to complete the project. The strength of unity is the intangible aspect that can determine the rise or fall of a project.

    Effort: Every member strives to put in their best effort for the project, producing good and quality works. Good works generally would lead to a successful project.

    The blogger went on to ask if high TWQ results in a successful project. With the above elaboration, I agree. Of course, there are other factors they may lead to success of an innovative project. One would be the competency and skill set of each member. A competent member can contribute to the project with his/her resourcefulness or ability to meet work targets. And a skilful (or knowledgeable) member can contribute his expertise and knowledge.

  2. exstarlight on

    It’s interesting to see this being documented as research. Definitely this is something I could relate to at work and also good to see the results being openly shared (perhaps the reason why there isn’t any specific company or organisation mentioned in the article).

    I think apart from “performance” and “quality”, another area to look at can be “feedback”. For example, being open to any form ideas and criticisms, being able to listen to each other’s humble views or emotional tolerance. Communication is useless if it’s not a two way process. You could have a team with consisting of the cream of the crop – the best of the best; they’re all team players but not necessarily innovative. Such team make good soldiers – the Indian chief and the Indians – to just follow orders. But to be innovative, a team has to be receptive of any feedback both good and not so good. Communication alone is not enough, we need to put aside our ego and be open to ideas in order to discover or create something radical otherwise it’s not an innovation but a mere improvement.

    I quote Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

    – exstarlight

    • travelrene on

      I do agree with exstarlight that feedback is another important area which will lead to the success of innovative projects. Without honest feedback and open communications, it is hard for a team to work well together to achieve a fix objective. It will be hard for a team to produce innovative projects due to lack of understanding regarding the projects and sharing of views and ideas within the team members.

      I like the quote of Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” This is how a team can appear differently from other teams, by being able to produce a different result with the same resources. Hence, besides performance and quality, creativity is equally important to the success of innovative projects.

      By having open communications, for example giving feedback and listen to each other views and have more active discussions which involve all the team members, team members will be able to generate and share more ideas openly, be creative and innovative projects can be proposed and finally being executed in the future.


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