The increasing number of complex multi-team projects and the scarcity of knowledge about how to run them successfully, create a need for systematic empirical studies. We attempt to lessen this empirical gap by examining the overlap and structure of formally ascribed design interfaces and informal communication networks between participating teams in two complex multi-team projects in the space industry. We study the two projects longitudinally throughout the design and integration phases of product development. There are three major findings. First, formally ascribed design interfaces and informal communication networks overlap only marginally. Second, the structure of informal communication remains largely stable in the transition from the design to the integration phase. The third and most intriguing finding is that the weak overlap between formally ascribed design interfaces and the informal communication networks is associated with increases in the effectiveness, however, it negatively impacts the team's efficiency.
Proceedings of the R&d Management Conference 2007, 2007