Walking the managerial tightrope: top management involvement in product innovation projects

Change log
Felekoglu, B 
Maier, AM 
Moultrie, J 

jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Purpose</jats:title>jats:pThis study examines how technical drivers as well as social drivers influence organic communication and top management involvement (TMI) in new product development (NPD) projects. Technical drivers are of strategic importance and product innovativeness and social drivers are of intrinsic and extrinsic relevance. Organic communication is defined as continuous, bidirectional and informal communication between top management and the NPD teams. Further, arguing that TMI must be studied as a multifaceted construct, it is conceptualized to occur as guidance, active motivation and providing resources and creating a tolerant climate. Subsequently, the effect of TMI and organic communication on NPD performance is investigated.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Design/methodology/approach</jats:title>jats:pThe data set, collected via surveys from top managers and project managers involved in 86 NPD projects in 85 firms, is analyzed using PLS structural equation modeling.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Findings</jats:title>jats:pThe authors show that the strategic importance of the project has a positive influence on TMI through active motivation, providing resources and creating a tolerant climate for innovation, but does not have an effect on guidance. Results also show that active motivation and organic communication improve budget and schedule adherence, whereas providing guidance and stimulating a tolerant climate have detrimental effects. In summary, the results show that only active motivation enhances all types of performance while stimulating a tolerant climate appears to have the opposite effect. The results revealed that organic communication between top management and the NPD team has a strong positive effect on all elements of TMI (providing guidance, actively motivating the NPD team, providing resources and creating a tolerant climate). In other words, when top management communicates with the NPD team throughout the project in an informal way and listens to them in addition to engaging in a one-way communication, they are more likely to be seen by the team as being deeply involved in the project.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Practical implications</jats:title>jats:pExecutives must walk a managerial tightrope to actively motivate and to assist in providing resources, yet they must not be overbearing with direct guidance and must limit their tolerance for failures.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Originality/value</jats:title>jats:pInvolvement of key organizational actors such as top management and the link to project performance has attracted significant attention in research. However, nuanced empirical insights into the dyad of top management and project teams has so far been absent. The study’s findings detail the effect of technical and social drivers of top management involvement in new product development projects. Most notably, (1) the effect of motivation and stimulating a tolerant climate on performance, and (2) the effect of organic communication on top management involvement. Moreover, this study is unique in that it empirically examines TMI from both top management and team perspectives.</jats:p></jats:sec>

35 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services, 3507 Strategy, Management and Organisational Behaviour
Journal Title
European Journal of Innovation Management
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Turkish Council of Higher Education