Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Multi-Partner Alliance Teams for Product Innovation: The Role of Human Resource Management Fit

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Multi-Partner Alliance Teams for Product Innovation: The Role of Human Resource Management Fit

Article excerpt

Multi-partner R&D alliances2 constitute powerful strategies for firms to deal with new product development challenges and represent, therefore, an important phenomenon in the collaboration for innovation landscape (Gerwin & Ferris, 2004; Lavie, Lechner, & Singh, 2007). To become operational, these alliances are usually configured as a portfolio of multiple subprojects involving teams formed by different partners who are jointly responsible for specific parts of the R&D project vis-à-vis the entire project's R&D. In this study, we refer to these teams as multipartner alliance teams (MA teams). MA teams offer huge potential for the co-development of new products, arising from the ideal combination of diverse knowledge resources contributed by the multiple partners (He & Wong, 2011; Lavie et al., 2007; Mothe & Quelin, 2001). However, there is an important distinction between potential for innovation and effective realization of such potential (Madhok & Tallman, 1998), the latter aspect depending on the management of partners' interactions that occur within the MA teams. In this regard, the climate prevailing in the MA team could be considered as a key determining factor (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004; West, 1990).

The literature on strategic human resource management (HRM) emphasizes the role of HRM fit in generating a team climate that encourages innovation (Boon, Den Hartog, Boselie, & Paauwe, 2011; Cavagnoli, 2011; Delery, 1998; Jiménez- Jiménez & Sanz-Valle, 2005). Traditionally, this literature has focused on single-firm new product development teams, analyzing two basic HRM fit dimensions: vertical fit (alignment between HRM practices and the firm's strategic goals) (Marks & Mirvis, 2011; Wang & Verma, 2012; West, 1990); and horizontal fit (HRM practices are mutually complementary) (Jiang et al., 2012; Laursen & Foss, 2003). By contrast, little scholarly attention has been paid to exploring the contributions of HRM fit in MA teams (Gerwin & Ferris, 2004; Lavie et al., 2007). In the multi-partner setting, multilateral interaction among partners presumably involves unique idiosyncrasies of teamwork dynamics (Das & Teng, 2002; Kaulio & Uppvall, 2009; Lavie et al., 2007; Thorgren, Wincent, & Eriksson, 2010). Therefore, merely extending the traditional notion of HRM fit (vertical and horizontal) may not be enough to capture the complex realities of MA teams. Rather, this notion needs to be reconceptualized to provide insights on how to create a strong climate in such product innovation contexts. As teamwork quality largely determines multi-partner R&D alliances success, understanding how to promote a climate for product innovation in MA teams may have important implications for innovation management, policy, and practice.

In this paper, we address this conceptual gap in research by combining insights from the strategic HRM literature (Laursen & Foss, 2003) and the relational view of alliances (Dyer & Singh, 1998; Mesquita, Anand, & Brush, 2008). While the first collection of literature underscores the importance of HRM efforts of individual partners, the second perspective suggests the importance of relational variables. According to the relational view, the collaborative relationship itself is the locus of innovation, providing outputs that can only be created through the joint contributions of the specific alliance partners. Based on these premises, we reconceptualize the traditional notion of HRM fit, recognizing its dual nature (partner-level and inter-partner-level) and adding a new dimension: relational HRM fit. According to our framework, this new dimension concerns the alignment between the separate sets of partners' alliance-specific HRM practices (i.e., practices that each partner firm individually adopts for those of its employees that are involved in a MA team) and represents a crucial factor toward development of team climate in MA teams. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.