Innovation is crucial to managing ever-increasing environmental complexity. Creativity is the first stage of the innovation process and is particularly relevant in modern new product development (NPD) projects. In response to a call for further empirical research on collective creative performance combining individual and team levels in a comprehensive framework, this paper offers useful evidence for the design of NPD teams to foster creative performance. The results suggest that different sets of individual traits and collective processes combine and interact, enabling a similar level of creative performance from different configurations of individual and team “ingredients.” There are no consistently good-quality or poor-quality NPD teams or processes. However, equifinal configurations— based on team composition, and interpersonal, coordination, control, and diversity management processes—can be effective in producing creative products. Through a large-scale study of 119 teams of students involved in an NPD activity, this paper contributes by expanding creativity and NPD team design literature, providing the basis for a “first right” approach to real-world,in-company research. It first proposes and tests the adoption of the configurational equifinality approach in the NPD team design domain, introducing the concept of complementarities among different types of “team ingredients,” both at the individual and team level. Second, it introduces different multidimensional measures of team creative performance, relevant to generalizing and comparing the research results. Third, it offers several guidelines for designing real-world NPD teams through the combination of diversity and interpersonal management, as well as coordination and control processes, which have not been studied to any great extent but are at times controversial in creativity literature.
- Collective creativity
- Configurational approach