Does Inter-Team Competition kill Team Innovation? The Buffering effects of Team Information Brokerage



Organizations are increasingly using teams to stimulate innovation. Often, these teams, while interdependent with one another to achieve their goals, also compete for resources and other outcomes. We suggest that such competition varies at a dyadic level such that teams experience competition from some peer teams more than others. Facing inter-team competition from several peer teams, we argue, can curtail a focal team’s ability to acquire and utilize diverse knowledge from these teams (i.e., inter-team knowledge integration), which is an important catalyst for the development of innovative products and services. Using two studies—a field study of 73 knowledge-intensive teams in high-tech engineering firms and a team-based network experimental study of 162 teams—we find that facing a high degree of overall competition from many peer teams reduces focal teams’ ability to integrate knowledge available in the organization, thereby hindering team innovation. However, applying insights from structural hole theory, we find that occupying brokerage positions in the inter-team information exchange network buffers the effects of competition. We demonstrate that the negative effects of competition on knowledge integration and innovation are stronger when teams do not occupy such advantageous positions. Theoretical and practical implications of the effects of inter-team competition and brokerage are discussed.


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Meeting ID: 968 1125 6900