W&J professor publishes research conducted with international scholars

Created: October 18, 2018
Last Updated: December 20, 2019

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WASHINGTON, PA (Oct. 18, 2018)—Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) Associate Professor of Economics and Business Robert Litchfield, Ph.D., recently published research he completed with scholars from all over the world in the Journal of Product Innovation Management.

The study asks, “Is there an “I” (for “innovation”) in teams?” and examines if strong ties to a team are good for innovation. The research Dr. Litchfield conducted in collaboration with researchers from Bilkent University in Turkey, Aston University in the United Kingdom, and the Australian National University sheds light on the conflicting science of when tightly-knit teams may be more or less innovative.

“We often think that it’s good for teams to form a tight bond to each other, but there are indications in prior research that this doesn’t always lead to innovative behavior. Our work addresses this puzzle of what it takes for a strong team to be an innovative one,” Dr. Litchfield said.

Their work considers the role of social identification in teams engaged in complex research and development projects. The study suggests that strong bonds within a team can increase the team’s innovative behavior both within the team and toward other teams, but that these positive aspects of team ties only happen to teams with established norms for collectively reflecting on their work. The researchers also found that tightly-knit teams without a habit for collective reflection were less likely to engage in innovative behavior toward other teams. These results suggest that research on the social psychology of group identification can help us to understand the dynamics of team-based innovation in organizations.

You can access the full article here.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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