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The Effects of R&D Team Co-location on Communication Patterns among R&D, Marketing, and Manufacturing

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Author Info

  • Christophe Van den Bulte

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6371)

  • Rudy K. Moenaert

    (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Ghent, Hoveniersberg 4, 9000 Ghent, Belgium)

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    Abstract

    Reducing the physical distance among R&D engineers and between R&D and marketing is widely believed to result in more frequent communication, and hence higher product development performance. However, the empirical evidence for the effect of co-location on communication frequency is problematic for two reasons: (1) the evidence often features either little contextual realism or doubtful internal validity, and (2) the analysis does not deal with the statistical problems typical of network data. Our study avoids the first problem by using sequential network data collected from a quasi-experiment at an industrial company that regrouped its R&D teams into a new facility. We avoid the second problem by using Wasserman and Iacobucci's (1988) method for the statistical analysis of sequential network data. Our results show that communication among R&D teams was enhanced after co-locating these teams. Surprisingly, communication frequency between R&D and marketing was not affected by the increased physical distance. This may suggest that business procedures accompanying the relocation prevented a widening gap between R&D and marketing. Alternatively, it may indicate that the effect of co-location depends on the content and medium of the communication flows.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.44.11.S1
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 44 (1998)
    Issue (Month): 11-Part-2 (November)
    Pages: S1-S18

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:44:y:1998:i:11-part-2:p:s1-s18

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    Related research

    Keywords: New Product Development; Co-location; R&D--Marketing Interface; Social Networks;

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    Cited by:
    1. Sosa, Manuel E., 2003. "Factors that influence technical communication in distributed product development : an empirical study in the telecommunications industry," Working papers WP 4123-00., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. Todd Zenger, 2002. "Crafting Internal Hybrids: Complementarities, Common Change Initiatives, and the Team-Based Organization," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 79-95.
    3. Bruce Heiman & Jack Nickerson, 2002. "Towards Reconciling Transaction Cost Economics and the Knowledge-based View of the Firm: The Context of Interfirm Collaborations," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 97-116.

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