Organizing for Innovation: A Contingency Perspective on Innovative Team Configuration

Co-author(s): Sarah Kaplan (UofT)

2nd R&R in Strategic Management Journal, 2019

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Abstract: While innovation has increasingly become a collaborative effort, there is little consensus in research about what types of team configurations might be the most useful for creating breakthrough innovations. Do teams need to include inventors with knowledge breadth for recombination or do they need inventors with knowledge depth for identifying anomalies? Do teams need overlapping knowledge to integrate insights from diverse areas or does this redundancy hamper innovation by creating inefficiencies? In this paper, we address these tensions by asking how the characteristics of a technological domain moderate the relationship between team configuration and innovation outcomes. Focusing on the degree of modularity and the breadth of application, we find that the optimal team configurations are indeed contingent on the technological domain in which innovation occurs.

Keywords: Innovation, Breakthroughs, Team Configuration, Modularity, General Purpose Technologies, Topic Modeling, Innovation Organization