Zvi Aronson Howe School, Stevens Institute of Technology
Is there an Optimum Leader Personality Style for New Product Development Success? An Examination of Teams Developing Radical and Incremental Innovations

Teams developing innovations work in a context ripe with uncertainty, and handling this uncertainty places special demands on the leaders of such teams. This research examines the role of leader personal style in the success of two different types of New Product Development (NPD) teams: radical and incremental. Using the five-factor model of personal style as a framework, results based on a sample of 116 NPD teams suggest that for NPD leaders, conscientiousness and emotional stability are important variables for NPD success. Additionally, depending upon the type of innovation, specific personal style variables may be more important. Strong support was found for our proposal that NPD teams working on radical innovations would benefit from a more open leader. Radical NPD teams operate under conditions of market and technical uncertainty. More open leaders should be more easily able to encourage and handle new ideas that are necessary for managing radical innovations. Implications for selection and training of individuals to lead radical NPD teams are provided. This talk builds on my recent presentation and Infineum USA - an ExxonMobil - Shell joint venture.