Nienaber, A./Holtorf, V./Schewe, G./Leker, J. (2015) A climate of psychological safety enhances the success of front end teams, International Journal of Innovation Management, 19 (2), 1550027 [34 pages] DOI: 10.1142/S1363919615500279


This paper contributes to the discussion concerning initiative in teams at the front end of new prod-uct development processes (innovative teams). In contrast to the general opinion presented in the literature, this study points out that unstructured innovative teams are able to show as much initia-tive in developing new ideas or in finding quick solutions as are structured innovative teams. There-fore we analyze the relationship between teamwork quality and team initiative in structured and unstructured teams at the front end of a new product development process and, in particular, we focus on a climate of psychological safety. To examine this relationship, data were collected from 100 team members from different departments in a multinational corporation. As has been pointed out in literature previously, where a team leader provides little structure at the micro level for team members there is a negative effect on displays of initiative in the very early stages of the innovation process. However we can demonstrate that this effect can be reduced by a climate of psychological safety. Thus, it can be stated that unstructured teamwork combined with a climate of psychological safety is the way for teams at the front end of a new product development process to be successful.

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Prof. Dr. Ann-Marie Nienaber
Professor in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behavior

Head of Research Group: Trust and Workplaces

Coventry University, United Kingdom
(Modern University of the Year 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations