Defensive Behaviours in Innovation Teams – an Analysis How Teams Discuss It

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Peter OEIJ, Healthy Living, TNO, Leiden, Netherlands, Management, Science and Technology, School of Management, Open University of The Netherlands, Heerlen, Netherlands
Steven DHONDT, TNO, Netherlands
Jeff GASPERSZ, Nyenrode Business University, Netherlands
Project team members and project leaders of innovation projects were interviewed about the possible presence of defensive behaviours within the team. Discussing defensive behavior is not self-evident. While investigating defensive behavior can be done validly by observation techniques, to talk about defensiveness often leads to socially desirable and therefor invalid information. However, applying discourse analysis techniques from the discursive psychology sub discipline reveals how intentions to discuss defensiveness leads itself to defensive behaviour. The study demonstrates that how individuals are using pauses, taking turns, and respond to the questions and to each other, provides a view that even meta-discussing defensiveness is very hard. The relevance of this finding is that defensive behaviours in teams, whose members are working on innovation projects, might be detrimental to the innovation goals, given that defensiveness may lead to risk avoidance. Controlled risk taking is crucial for innovative outcomes of such projects. The implication of these findings is the need to develop socially safe team climates in which team members can regulate feelings and emotions in such a way that defensive behaviours can be avoided or that the causes for defensiveness can be made discussable, in order to reduce the possibilities of innovations to fail. The teams under study are responsible for an innovation or renewal and come from both private and public organisations.