This study performs an in-depth analysis of the causes and consequences of team boundary-spanning activities in the context of Chinese technology transfer, by addressing three related research questions: what are the drivers of teams’ boundary-spanning activities? How do teams conduct boundary-spanning activities? What is the impact of teams’ boundary-spanning activities? Based on the “input–moderator–output–input” model of team effectiveness theory, this study firstly explores which factors drive technology transfer teams to engage in boundary-spanning activities. Then, it examines the effects that such activities have on technology transfer performance, both directly and indirectly, through a set of mediating factors. Finally, it explores whether external environmental conditions play any moderating role in the relationship between team boundary-spanning activities and team performance. The empirical analysis is based on original primary survey data collected from a representative sample of organizations involved in the Chinese technology transfer system. The study both contributes the team effectiveness theory applied to the specific context of technology transfer and offers practical suggestions to managers of technology transfer intermediaries.
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Team boundary-spanning activity measurement scale—Source: Adapted from Ancona and Caldwell (1992a)
|TB1||Absorb outside pressures for the team so it can work free of interference|
|TB2||Protect the team from outside interference|
|TB3||Teams often reject too many requests from outsiders|
|TB4||Persuade other individuals that the team's activities are important|
|TB5||Scan the environment inside your organization for threats to the product team|
|TB6||Team show its image to the outside world|
|TB7||Persuade others to support the team's decisions|
|TB8||Acquire resources (e, g., money, new members, equipment) for the team|
|TB9||Report the progress of the team to a higher organizational level|
|TB10||Find out whether others in the company support or oppose your team's activities|
|TB11||Find out information on your company's strategy or political situation that may affect the project|
|TB12||Keep other groups in the company informed of your team's activities|
|TB13||Resolve design problems with external groups|
|TB14||Coordinate activities with external groups|
|TB15||Procure things which the team needs from other groups or individuals in the company|
|TB16||Negotiate with others for delivery deadlines|
|TB17||Review product design with outsiders|
|TB18||Find out what competing firms or groups are doing on similar projects|
|TB19||Scan the environment inside or outside the organization for marketing ideas/expertise|
|TB20||Collect technical information/ideas from individuals outside of the team|
|TB21||Scan the environment inside or outside the organization for technical ideas/expertise|
|TB22||Keep news about the team secret from others in the company until the appropriate time|
|TB23||Avoid releasing information to others in the company to protect the team's image or product it is working on|
|TB24||Control the release of information from the team in an effort to present the profile we want to show|
Task dependence research scale—Source: Adapted from Campion et al. (1993)
|TD1||I cannot accomplish my task without information or materials from other members of my team|
|TD2||Other members of my team depend on me for information or materials needed to perform their tasks|
|TD3||Without my team, jobs performed by team members are related to one another|
Task complexity research scale—Source: Adapted from Jehn (1995)
|TF1||The task contains many uncertain factories|
|TF2||The main job is to solve complex problems|
|TF3||It is difficult to routinize the work|
|TF4||It requires a lot of information or alternatives|
|TF5||It includes many different elements|
Task time pressure measurement scale—Source: Adapted from Brown and Miller (2000)
|TT1||The time limit for technology transfer projects is urgent|
|TT2||Members of the technology transfer team face a lot of work|
|TT3||Members of the technology transfer team have no time to do other things|
|TT4||Members of the technology transfer team always feel that time is too little|
Team efficacy measurement scale—Source: Adapted from Guzzo et al. (1993)
|TE1||This team has confidence in itself|
|TE2||This team believes it can become unusually good at producing high-quality work|
|TE3||This team expects to be known as a high-performing team|
|TE4||This team feels it can solve any problem it encounters|
|TE5||This team believes it can be very productive|
|TE6||This team can get a lot done when it works hard|
|TE7||The team's work efficiency is high|
|TE8||This team expects to have a lot of influence around here|
Team communication measurement scale—Source: Adapted from Hirst and Mann (2004)
|TC1||Team members have a clear understanding of project objectives|
|TC2||Project objectives are understood by all members|
|TC3||There is a lack of clarity concerning project priorities|
|TC4||Project objectives are clearly communicated to all members|
|TC5||The team receives clear feedback regarding the project’s performance|
|TC6||Team members receive clear feedback regarding the quality of project work|
|TC7||Project information is shared across the team and is accessible to all|
|TC8||It is often difficult to get answers to important questions about my work|
|TC9||Team members have access to all the information required to do their work effectively|
|TC10||Team members have a clear understanding of the expectations of customer/funding agencies|
|TC11||The team discusses project objectives with customer/funding agencies|
|TC12||Customer/funding agencies provide clear directions concerning desired project outcomes|
|TC13||The team receives frequent feedback from customer/funding agencies|
Environmental uncertainty measurement scale—Source: Adapted from Justin Tan and Litsschert (1994)
|EU1||Environmental changes in our local market are intense|
|EU2||Our clients regularly ask for new products and services|
|EU3||In our local market, changes are taking place continuously|
|EU4||In a year, nothing has changed in our market|
|EU5||The demand of technology demanders is largely influenced by non-market factors such as social culture, political factors, social events and policy orientation|
|EU6||Technological standards of technology suppliers are largely influenced by factors such as social culture and government policies|
|EU7||Our organizational unit has relatively strong competitors|
|EU8||Competition in our local market is extremely high|
|EU9||Price competition is a hallmark of our local market|
|EU10||Clients’ requirements are getting higher and higher|
|EU11||The competition between teams is becoming more and more intense|
|EU12||Competitors’ behaviors become more and more various|
|EU13||It is more and more difficult to obtain resources|
Performance of technology transfer team—Source: Adapted from Müller and Turner (2007)
|TP1||End-user satisfaction with the project's product or service|
|TP3||Project team's satisfaction|
|TP4||Other stakeholders' satisfaction|
|TP5||Technology transfer fails to achieve its overall performance (function, budget, etc.)|
|TP6||Meeting user requirements|
|TP7||Transferred technology failed to achieve its intended technical performance|
|TP8||Reoccurring business with the client|
|TP9||Meeting the respondent's self-defined success factor|
|TP10||Meeting the project's purpose|
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Cite this article
Kaiji, X., Crupi, A., Di Minin, A. et al. Team boundary-spanning activities and performance of technology transfer organizations: evidence from China. J Technol Transf (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-021-09843-8
- Technology transfer
- Team effectiveness
- Team boundary-spanning activities
- Team performance