Working the boundaries in the motor industry

Improving product development performance, through changes in organizational structure, has been an important goal for many researchers, organizational development consultants and industrialists in the 1990s. The challenges of the twenty-first century business environment will require a radical re-think of old ideas about formal organizational structures and their impact on company achievements. Perhaps it is time to question whether the choice of any one organizational structure over another is really conducive to improvements in product development performance. The ‘Working the Boundaries’ Project will undertake an investigation into the feasibility of a boundary-based view to product development in the automotive industry. This paper sets the research context and presents some preliminary research findings in the form of a ‘tentative theory’ that suggests the importance of the informal organization based on the network of interrelationships between product developers.