New product development work requires managers from functional backgrounds to work
together on projects and rely on each other’s specialist skills and resources to meet their
own job requirements. This interaction requires the manager to make decisions about the
extent to which they want to invest in a working relationship with a functional
counterpart. The purpose of this exploratory paper is to develop and test an exploratory
model examining the effects of such managerial dependence on relationship investment
and communication and during cross-functional working relationships between marketing
managers and R&D managers in 184 new product development projects in Australia.
This study provides empirical support for the proposition that while the way a manager
perceives their dependence on their functional counterparts is important, a greater
predictor of successful working relationships is the norm of reciprocity. This has
implications for the nature of integration mechanisms that top management use to
facilitate successful interactions between their functional specialists on NPD projects.