Keywords: cross-functional integration, contingency perspective, product characteristics, adaptive capabilities, Japan, Japanese manufacturing, product development, organisational capabilities, technology development, technical problems, process development
Does cross-functional integration lead to adaptive capabilities? Lessons from 188 Japanese product development projects
The study considered the adaptive capabilities of Japanese manufacturing firms by focusing on the impact of product characteristics on successful product development projects. We presumed that adaptive capabilities, which enable firms to adopt proper product development routines according to product characteristics, are critical for successful product development. Based on the contingency perspective, we collected and analysed questionnaire-based data from 188 successful Japanese product development projects. The results demonstrated that Japanese firms have organisational capabilities to make proper use of product development routines for technology development and technical problem solving. However, Japanese firms were likely to stick to cross-functional integration for product/process development irrelevant to product characteristics. This adherence to cross-functional integration suggested that Japanese firms have less adaptive capabilities for making proper use of cross-functional integration according to product characteristics and industrial dynamism, while cross-functional integration was supposed to enhance knowledge interaction processes in exploratory activities for complex/novel products.