Dr. John F. Dion is currently an assistant professor of marketing and the MBA program coordinator at the Huether School of Business, The College of Saint Rose, Albany, New York, USA. Prior to joining Saint Rose, he spent 10 years in marketing and product development at the LEGO Group and 15 years in marketing at Bose Corporation. Dr. Dion has served on numerous non-profit boards, including the Worcester Art Museum, StageWest, and the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region.
Cross-functional, cross-geographic diversity increases the potential information and
perspective available for a product development team to consider, increasing the
potential that products developed by the team will achieve success in the marketplace.
Diversity, however, has also been shown to increase the likelihood of conflict, which
can prevent the team from reaching its potential. This research examines factors
associated with higher levels of market orientation, which include the coordination
necessary for team members to work together as well as the customer, competitor, and
proactive orientations to provide focus for the effort. Prior research has also shown a
positive correlation between market orientation and business performance. For these
reasons, this research uses market orientation as the measure of team effectiveness for
cross-functionally, cross-geographically diverse teams.
This research presents the findings from data collected over three years from three
teams in the same organization. The teams’ market orientation is viewed through three
different lenses: the MKTOR scale developed by Narver and Slater, one-on-one
interviews, and organizational network analysis. The research presents a substantive
theory that explains the data collected from all three teams and from all three data
sources. The data suggests that market orientation is the coordinated effort to gather,
disseminate, and respond to information in order to maintain and increase business with
the customer, thus supporting an integration of the two primary market orientation
definitions. Throughout the process the team faces ambiguity on many fronts, and the
team must deliberately manage this ambiguity in order to be successful. Managing
ambiguity, however, is not the same thing as eliminating ambiguity as resource
limitations and team size restrict how much ambiguity can be removed. Clarifying
communications, including developing a shared understanding of customer targets,
serve to remove ambiguity in the team.
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