The Effect of Role-Based Product Representations on Individual and Team Coordination Practices: A Field Study of a Globally Distributed New Product Development Team
The investigation of the appealing indication that a modular product architecture is best associated to a loosely coupled organizational structure—that is, the mirroring hypothesis—has produced contradictory evidence, especially in the dynamic and ambiguous context of new product development. By integrating modularity theory and product-representation theories, we investigate how individual agency affects coordination in teams developing modular products. We conducted a field study of Flower-Net, a globally distributed team in a major IT company, engaged with the development of a modular software using agile practices. Our grounded model shows that, whereas top managers defined the product as modular and coordinated work accordingly, individuals developed different representations of the product’s architecture and conflicting individual coordination practices. We traced the individual development of product architecture representations back to the individual interpretations of organizational roles as more or less “segmented.” Conflicting individual practices, associated to different role-based product representations, were not addressed by the team—that developed a state of illusory concordance—and impaired the functioning of the team. This study contributes to the literature on modularity and the mirroring hypothesis by proposing individual role-based representations as an underexplored level of analysis for the matching between product and organizational modularity (Mirroring Hypothesis II). It also contributes to the debate on how representations affect team coordination, by detailing how role-based product representations can influence team members’ divergence and sustain illusory concordance.
coordination, illusory concordance, mirroring hypothesis, modularity, new product development, product representations, roles
Elisa Mattarelli, Fabiola Bertolotti, Andrea Prencipe, and Amar Gupta. "The Effect of Role-Based Product Representations on Individual and Team Coordination Practices: A Field Study of a Globally Distributed New Product Development Team" Organization Science (2022): 1423-1461. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2021.1487