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The transition between product development processes and its effects on cross-functional collaboration: A case study in the software development industry

Burtscher, Martin LU and Collins, Ronan LU (2015) ENTN39 20151
Department of Business Administration
Abstract
This thesis examines how the transition from a linear product development process to a faster and iterative one affects the extent and quality of cross-functional collaboration within a company. It investigates both what changes such a transition entails, as well as how they may be explained. The setting of the study is the software development department of a multinational consumer electronics firm.

The results both validate previous findings and generate some novel insights. As proposed by existing theory, it is found that ownership (defined as a clear distribution of responsibility and authority) plays a vital role in cross-functional product development. The collected empirical data suggests that – in an absence of formally defined... (More)
This thesis examines how the transition from a linear product development process to a faster and iterative one affects the extent and quality of cross-functional collaboration within a company. It investigates both what changes such a transition entails, as well as how they may be explained. The setting of the study is the software development department of a multinational consumer electronics firm.

The results both validate previous findings and generate some novel insights. As proposed by existing theory, it is found that ownership (defined as a clear distribution of responsibility and authority) plays a vital role in cross-functional product development. The collected empirical data suggests that – in an absence of formally defined ownership structures – it is individual personality and leadership traits that determine to a large extent the level of involvement from, and quality of interaction between, different organizational functions. Furthermore, the case study highlights issues related to change that is limited to a single functional-departmental domain, instead of holistically encompassing the entire company. The findings indicate that empowering one small part of an organization in a relatively isolated fashion can foster a burgeoning sub-culture whose dominant logic may be at odds with the rest of the organization. Once the “spark of empowerment” has been lit, the fire might burn uncontrollably – i.e. an imbalance originating in intra-organizationally conflictive mentalities develops. In the case at hand, this imbalance was partially overcome by further self-empowerment of the department in question.

Overall, this thesis contributes to existing theory by further illuminating the previously under-researched transitional phase of product development process change. In doing so, it also manages to enhance the well-established field of cross-functional collaboration by examining it specifically from a process perspective. (Less)
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author
Burtscher, Martin LU and Collins, Ronan LU
supervisor
organization
course
ENTN39 20151
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
New product development, cross-functional collaboration, process change, divergence, empowerment
language
English
id
7454971
date added to LUP
2015-07-02 11:59:01
date last changed
2015-07-02 11:59:01
@misc{7454971,
  abstract     = {This thesis examines how the transition from a linear product development process to a faster and iterative one affects the extent and quality of cross-functional collaboration within a company. It investigates both what changes such a transition entails, as well as how they may be explained. The setting of the study is the software development department of a multinational consumer electronics firm.

The results both validate previous findings and generate some novel insights. As proposed by existing theory, it is found that ownership (defined as a clear distribution of responsibility and authority) plays a vital role in cross-functional product development. The collected empirical data suggests that – in an absence of formally defined ownership structures – it is individual personality and leadership traits that determine to a large extent the level of involvement from, and quality of interaction between, different organizational functions. Furthermore, the case study highlights issues related to change that is limited to a single functional-departmental domain, instead of holistically encompassing the entire company. The findings indicate that empowering one small part of an organization in a relatively isolated fashion can foster a burgeoning sub-culture whose dominant logic may be at odds with the rest of the organization. Once the “spark of empowerment” has been lit, the fire might burn uncontrollably – i.e. an imbalance originating in intra-organizationally conflictive mentalities develops. In the case at hand, this imbalance was partially overcome by further self-empowerment of the department in question. 

Overall, this thesis contributes to existing theory by further illuminating the previously under-researched transitional phase of product development process change. In doing so, it also manages to enhance the well-established field of cross-functional collaboration by examining it specifically from a process perspective.},
  author       = {Burtscher, Martin and Collins, Ronan},
  keyword      = {New product development,cross-functional collaboration,process change,divergence,empowerment},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The transition between product development processes and its effects on cross-functional collaboration: A case study in the software development industry},
  year         = {2015},
}