Team boundary-spanning activities and performance of technology transfer organizations: evidence from China

Abstract

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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Appendix 1

Appendix 1

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 scaleSource: 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 scaleSource: 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 scaleSource: 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 scaleSource: 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
TP2 Suppliers' satisfaction
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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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

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Keywords

  • Technology transfer
  • China
  • Team effectiveness
  • Team boundary-spanning activities
  • Team performance

JEL Classification

  • O30
  • 032
  • O39