Work design and integration glitches in globally distributed technology projects

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Abstract

In a technology project, project integration represents the pooling together of complete, interdependent task modules to form a physical product or software delivering a desired functionality. This study develops and tests a conceptual framework that examines the interrelationships between the elements of work design, project integration challenges, and project performance. We identify two distinct elements of work design in technology projects: (i) the type of project organization based on whether a technology project spans a firm boundary (Domestic-Outsourcing) or a country boundary (Offshore-Insourcing) or both boundaries (Offshore-Outsourcing) or no boundaries (Domestic-Insourcing), and (ii) the joint coordination practices among key stakeholders in a technology project - namely, Onsite Ratio and Joint-Task Ownership. Next, we measure the effectiveness of project integration using integration glitches that capture the incompatibility among interdependent task modules during project integration. Based on analysis of data from 830 technology projects, the results highlight the differential effects of distributed project organizations on integration glitches. Specifically, we find that project organizations that span both firm and country boundaries (Offshore-Outsourcing) experience significantly higher levels of integration glitches compared to domestic project organizations (Domestic-Outsourcing and Domestic-Insourcing). The results further indicate that the relationship between project organization type and integration glitches is moderated by the extent of joint coordination practices in a project. That is, managers can actively lower integration glitches by increasing the levels of onsite ratio and by promoting higher levels of joint-task ownership, particularly in project organization types that span both firm and country boundaries (Offshore-Outsourcing). Finally, the results demonstrate the practical significance of studying integration glitches by highlighting its significant negative effect on project performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-369
Number of pages23
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • global sourcing
  • integration glitches
  • offshoring
  • outsourcing
  • project management
  • work design

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