How Hard Can It Be to Communicate? Communication Mode and Performance in Collaborative R&D Projects

How Hard Can It Be to Communicate? Communication Mode and Performance in Collaborative R&D Projects

William H.A. Johnson (Bentley College, USA)
Copyright: © 2004 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-204-6.ch010
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Abstract

Survey data and case studies of collaborative R&D projects are used to analyze the relative usage of communication modes [e.g., face-to-face (F2F), categorized as soft modes, versus written, categorized as hard modes]. Incremental (versus radical) innovation projects tended to use more written communication, as did those in which project managers defined the significant problems. Those with high ambiguity or equivocality did not rely more on F2F, but predictably, conflict and goal changes negatively impacted communication and performance. Despite managers’ insistence that F2F communication is critical, only the use of written communication was associated with project success. Soft communication modes (F2F) may be needed to set direction in projects involving radical innovation, or any other project in which goals are unclear and not well agreed upon. However, when the innovation is incremental, and goals are understood and accepted, the use of hard communication modes (written) is no deterrent to success.

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