The maturation of digital objects in innovation projects: the role of interpersonal networks and team sharing atmosphere

Frantz Rowe, Dov Te’eni, Valéry Merminod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Innovation projects rely increasingly on digital objects as a means of developing and sharing knowledge within an organisation. The maturation of a digital object is important because only those objects that mature lead to actual products. There is, however, a catch 22. For objects to mature, they have to be shared; conversely, only mature objects tend to be shared. This interplay between the functional and social dimensions of object maturation and its role in product development has not been researched. Building on the relational view of objects, we theorise product development as an ensemble of myopic maturation processes of objects that recursively move between formal and informal networks in the organisation using sharing systems such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Investigating patterns, i.e., sequences of events, in these maturation processes is a way to understand how firms overcome this catch 22 situation. We study four product innovation projects in a home appliances company, tracing the maturation and sharing processes of three types of digital objects, namely marketing specifications, technical specifications and virtual prototypes. We find that sharing–maturation patterns are affected by interpersonal networks and by team sharing atmosphere. We also find that sharing and object maturation interactions are coordinated informally through interpersonal networks and formally through PLM systems and stage-gate mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Knowledge sharing
  • digital objects
  • myopic object maturation
  • product innovation projects
  • team sharing atmosphere

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