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Turning the Sword: How NPD Teams Cope with Front-End Tensions

Andriopoulos, C., Gotsi, M., Lewis, M. W. ORCID: 0000-0002-4658-9290 & Ingram, A. E. (2018). Turning the Sword: How NPD Teams Cope with Front-End Tensions. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 35(3), pp. 427-445. doi: 10.1111/jpim.12423


Front-end new product development (NPD) is fraught with tensions that fuel and inhibit innovation. According to paradox theory, tensions pose a double-edged sword, sparking learning and creativity or anxiety and counterproductive responses. NPD teams' shared understandings—how they think about (cognition) and approach (motivation) tensions—turn the sword. Existing literature examines innovation tensions and their management. Yet scholars call for deeper dives, seeking research that unpacks cognitive and motivational drivers underlying how NPD teams cope with tensions. This paper responds, presenting a four-year inductive study of five NPD consultancies. Across cases, findings explicate the roles of paradoxical cognitive frames and regulatory motivational focus. Across firms, the front-end NPD teams framed tensions paradoxically. Three frames—guided freefall, benevolent dictatorship, and cohesive diversity—helped teams develop shared understandings of tensions as paradoxical, posing competing yet interdependent demands. Teams varied, however, in their regulatory focus, influencing how they applied the frames to approach tensions. In the most innovative case, teams applied a promotion focus, energized to explore tensions in search of more creative alternatives and synergies. In less innovative cases, teams applied a prevention focus, motivated to avoid risk and loss. Together, paradoxical frames and regulatory focus shaped teams' coping behaviors and resulting innovation. Resulting theory posits the interplay among cognitive, motivational, and behavioral drivers of innovation. Results offer three contributions. First, this study extends understanding of antecedents to team innovation and front-end NPD. Second, findings deepen insights into team cognition and paradoxical frames. Last, the theoretical framework explicates how cognitive-motivational interactions enable coping behaviors that foster innovation. The conclusion poses managerial and research implications. Building from paradox theory this study suggests means to foster shared paradoxical frames and promotion focus in NPD teams. Further, study limitations highlight opportunities to extend its generalizability and elaborate underlying drivers of innovation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Andriopoulos, C., Gotsi, M., Lewis, M.W. and Ingram, A.E. (2018), Turning the Sword: How NPD Teams Cope with Front-End Tensions. J Prod Innov Manag, 35: 427-445, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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