Abstract

Virtual team’s usage has been growing exponentially (Kirkman, 2002) and new product development (NPD) initiatives are no exception. Increasingly teams which develop new products consist of geographically dispersed members who must jointly develop a product. Smith, Collins & Clark (2005) showed that strong network ties and favorable organizational cultures increase the percentage of new products developed. However, virtual teams lack strong ties which are necessary for transfer of tacit knowledge. Therefore, having a favorable culture is likely even more important.

Many companies have also begun to adopt Communities of Practice (COPs) which are groups of people informally bound together by a shared expertise in a volunteer organization supported by the corporation (Wenger and Snyder, 2000). They may be thought of as enhanced or focused knowledge sharing networks. For example, one of Shell’s most effective COPs is one that focuses on geological structures called turbites. Geoscientists throughout the company meet together on an informal basis to discuss the geological and reservoir characteristics to determine the best spots for development.

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