Keywords: innovation networks, new product development, organisational politics, network building, management of networks
Testing goodwill: conflict and cooperation in new product development networks
Networks are often seen as models of organisational flexibility, promoting the building of trust and exchange of information between different business functions while offering both cost savings and reductions in the uncertainties usually associated with innovation. Both internal and external networks have been identified as key elements in the collaborative development of new products. The actual process of network building and ongoing network management is not well researched, although the existing literature highlights difficulties for organisations attempting to maintain active product development networks. This article examines the development and management of such a network in the defence industry and focuses on network building processes in terms of the interactions between the individuals involved. This network has endured and evolved over many years despite a series of conflicts. One of the key findings is that the effective functioning of the overall network is closely allied to established processes within the two participating firms.