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How Participative Safety Matters More in Team Innovation as Team Size Increases

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to investigate if there is a moderating relation between team size and team innovation.

Design/Methodology/Approach

Data used in statistical analyses were obtained from 531 employees in 124 technology research teams.

Findings

The findings support the hypothesis, showing that not only team size, but also team size together with participative safety facilitates team innovation.

Implications

The findings show that not only large teams, but also large teams with participative safety are innovative. Team leaders thus need to ensure that collaborative rather than competitive environment prevails in their teams.

Originality/Value

This is one of the first studies to assess team innovation by patents received and to provide evidence of the moderating relation of participative safety between team size and team innovation.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Team innovation is “the intentional introduction and application, within a role, group or organization of ideas, processes, products or procedures, new to the relevant unit of adoption, designed to significantly benefit the individual, the group, the organization or wider society” (West and Farr 1990, p. 9).

  2. 2.

    While some scholars distinguish between work groups and work teams (e.g., Katzenbach and Smith 1993), we use these terms interchangeably. A work team is made up of two or more individuals, who see themselves and who are seen by others as a social entity, who are interdependent because of the tasks they perform as members of a team, who are embedded in one or more larger social systems (e.g., organization), and who perform tasks that affect others (e.g., customers) (Guzzo and Dickson 1996).

  3. 3.

    The minimum number of responding team members necessary for inclusion in the Eisenbeiss et al.’s (2008) study was two members per team. In their study, team size ranged from 5 to 22 members.

  4. 4.

    Some weaknesses of using patents to measure innovation include international and sectorial differences in patenting behavior, differences in patenting between large and small firms, the identical weight given to very important and run-of-the-mill patents, and the fact that patents only cover a part of the overall trajectory from research and development (R&D) to innovation (Hagedoorn and Cloodt 2003).

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Correspondence to Vesa Peltokorpi.

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Peltokorpi, V., Hasu, M. How Participative Safety Matters More in Team Innovation as Team Size Increases. J Bus Psychol 29, 37–45 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-013-9301-1

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Keywords

  • Participative safety
  • Patent
  • Research team
  • Team innovation
  • Team size