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Project Title

Symmetry in the Absorptive Capacity of Nascent Product Development Teams


Pankaj C. Patel, University of Louisville

James O. Fiet, University of Louisville

Project Abstract

Product development speed and efficiency is crucial to the commercial success of a venture. It is hypothesized that symmetry in absorptive capacity may be more important to team-based product development than prior explanations related to trust, homophily or skill diversity among team members. Asymmetry in absorptive capacity could create misalignments in the speed, quality, and direction of innovation. Using appropriate indicators at each level, we examine multi-level linkages among (1) individual-level absorptive capacity, (2) meso-level symmetry in absorptive capacity among team members and (3) team-level absorptive capacity. By examining team-based product development as a multi-level process, we are able to draw finer inferences about its operation and effectiveness.

A sample of approximately 80,000 individuals involved in open source software is used to understand product development. The data is augmented by mining information about prior software development experience and the nature of team-level interactions during the product development time period. Guidelines developed from this research could potentially provide assistance in designing teams with symmetrical absorptive capacity, which could be a source of competitive advantage for a new venture.