When is traditionalism an asset and when is it a liability for team innovation? A two-study empirical examination

Abstract

Team innovation requires idea generating and idea implementing. In two studies, we examine how these team activities are affected by the extent to which members value traditionalism – that is, placing importance on preserving old ways of doing things over breaking precedent and forging new approaches. We proposed that higher average levels of team traditionalism would be negatively associated with idea generating but positively associated with idea implementing. Conversely, we proposed the opposite effects for diversity on team traditionalism. Further, we argued that these effects would be mediated by team process conflict because diversity on team traditionalism might make it more likely that members will debate what to retain versus newly adopt, and team agreement is more likely to occur when team members’ values are shared, rather than discrepant, with one another. Supporting our assertions, we found that whether traditionalism is an asset or liability for team innovation depends on whether (1) the average level (versus diversity) of team traditionalism is examined; and (2) idea generating versus idea implementing is of primary importance. Specifically, idea generating benefits from higher diversity on team traditionalism, whereas idea implementing benefits from higher average levels of team traditionalism. We discuss theoretical and practical implications.

Résumé

Une innovation dans une équipe nécessite la génération d’une idée et la mise en œuvre de cette idée. Dans deux études, nous examinons comment ces activités d’équipe sont touchées par la façon dont les membres valorisent le traditionalisme – c’est-à-dire, en accordant de l’importance à la préservation des anciennes manières de faire les choses plutôt qu’à la rupture de précédentes et à la proposition de nouvelles approches. Nous supposons que des niveaux moyens élevés de traditionalisme au sein de l’équipe soient négativement corrélés à la génération d’une idée, mais positivement associés à la mise en œuvre de l’idée. À l’inverse, nous proposons des effets opposés de la diversité sur le traditionalisme au sein d’une équipe. En outre, nous soutenons que ces effets seraient modérés par des conflits de fonctionnement au sein de l’équipe parce que la diversité du traditionalisme de l’équipe peut rendre plus probable le fait que les membres discutent de ce qu’il faut retenir et de ce qu’il faut nouvellement adopter ; et que l’accord au sein de l’équipe est plus susceptible de se produire lorsque les valeurs des membres de l’équipe sont partagées, plutôt que contradictoires. Appuyant nos assertions, nous constatons que le fait que le traditionalisme soit un avantage ou un inconvénient pour l’innovation dans une équipe dépend : (1) si le niveau moyen, ou la diversité, du traditionalisme de l’équipe est étudié ; et (2) si la génération de l’idée par rapport à la mise en œuvre de l’idée est d’importance primordiale. Plus précisément, la génération de l’idée bénéficie d’une plus grande diversité du traditionalisme de l’équipe, alors que la mise en œuvre de l’idée bénéficie de niveaux moyens élevés de traditionalisme au sein de l’équipe. Nous discutons les implications théoriques et managériales.

Resumen

La innovación en equipo requiere generación de ideas e implementación de ideas. En dos estudios, examinamos cómo estas actividades de equipo son afectadas por la medida en que los miembros valoren el tradicionalismo – es decir, el dar importancia a preservar las viejas formas de hacer las cosas sobre romper precedentes y forjar nuevos enfoques. Proponemos que unos niveles promedio más altos de tradicionalismo en los equipos sería asociada negativamente con la generación de ideas, pero positivamente asociada con la implementación de ideas. Al contrario, proponemos los efectos opuestos para la diversidad en el tradicionalismo del equipo. También, argumentamos que estos efectos serían mediados por el conflicto de procesos del equipo ya que la diversidad en el tradicionalismo de un equipo puede hacer más probable que los miembros debatan lo que deben mantener versus lo nuevo a adoptar; y, el acuerdo del equipo es más probable que ocurra cuando los valores de los miembros del equipo son compartidos, en lugar que discrepantes entre ellos. Apoyando nuestras afirmaciones, encontramos que para que el tradicionalismo sea un activo o un limitante para la innovación del equipo depende de: (1) el nivel promedio de, o diversidad de, el nivel de tradicionalismo sea examinado; y (2) la generación de ideas contra la implementación de ideas es de importancia primordial. Específicamente, la generación de idea se beneficia de mayor diversidad en el tradicionalismo del equipo, mientras que la implementación de ideas se beneficia de mayores niveles promedio de tradicionalismo en el equipo. Discutimos las implicaciones teóricas y prácticas.

Resumo

A inovação em equipes requer a geração e a implementação de ideias. Em dois estudos, examinamos como essas atividades em equipe são afetadas pela medida em que os membros valorizam o tradicionalismo - ou seja, dão importância para a preservação de formas antigas de fazer as coisas ao invés de abrir precedentes e forjar novas abordagens. Propusemos que valores médios mais altos de tradicionalismo de equipe estariam negativamente associados à geração de ideias, mas positivamente associados à implementação de ideias. Por outro lado, propusemos os efeitos opostos para a diversidade no tradicionalismo de equipe. Além disso, argumentamos que esses efeitos seriam mediados pelo conflito de processo em equipe porque a diversidade no tradicionalismo de equipe poderia tornar mais provável que os membros debatam o que manter versus o que adotar de novidade; e concordância na equipe é mais provável de ocorrer quando os valores dos membros da equipe são compartilhados do que quando são discrepantes. Apoiando nossas afirmações, descobrimos que o tradicionalismo ser um ativo ou um passivo para a inovação em equipe depende se: (1) o nível médio de, ou a diversidade no tradicionalismo de equipe é examinado; e, (2) a geração versus implementação de ideia é de importância primordial. Especificamente, a geração de ideias se beneficia da maior diversidade no tradicionalismo de equipe, enquanto a implementação de ideias se beneficia de níveis médios mais altos de tradicionalismo de equipe. Discutimos implicações teóricas e práticas.

概要

团队创新需要创意的生成和创意的实施。在两项研究中,我们研究团队活动是如何受成员们重视传统主义的程度影响的– 也就是说,重视保留老的做事方法,而不打破先例及建立新方法。我们提出,团队传统主义平均水平较高与创意生成负相关,但与创意实施正相关。另一方面,我们提出了多元性对团队传统主义的相反影响。此外,我们认为,这些影响将由团队过程冲突来调节,因为团队传统主义多元性可能会使成员们更可能地去辩论该保留什么对照该新采用什么;并且,当团队成员们的价值观彼此是共享的而不是有差异的时候,团队协议更可能达成。我们的主张得到了支持,我们发现,传统主义对团队创新有利或不利取决于是否:(1)团队传统主义的平均水平或多元性被检查;并且,(2)创意生成对照创意实施是最重要的。具体来说,团队传统主义多元性较高对创意生成有益,而团队传统主义平均水平较高对创意实施有益。我们讨论了对理论和实践的启示。

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Correspondence to Laura Huang.

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Accepted by David C. Thomas, Area Editor, on March 4, 2017. This article has been with the authors for four revisions.

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Huang, L., Gibson, C.B., Kirkman, B.L. et al. When is traditionalism an asset and when is it a liability for team innovation? A two-study empirical examination. J Int Bus Stud 48, 693–715 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-017-0075-y

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Keywords

  • innovation and R&D
  • teams and teamwork
  • traditionalism
  • diversity
  • idea generation
  • idea implementation