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How Team Diversity Drives Innovation: Modeling in the Global Pharmaceutical Industry

Jones, Graham, Chirino-Chace, Bernardita and Wright, Justin (2021) How Team Diversity Drives Innovation: Modeling in the Global Pharmaceutical Industry. International Journal of Innovation Science, 13 (2). pp. 133-144. ISSN 1757-2223


Purpose – The innovative capacity of an organization is typically realized through unit-level teams.
Previous studies correlate innovation performance with cultural diversity of teams, but note that team
dynamics need to be optimized to derive maximum benefit. Herein, this study offers an assessment of
available team building instruments through the lens of diverse innovation teams. In a demonstration
project in the pharmaceutical industry, this study then outlines specific tools and approaches which
can be successfully deployed through team coaching and mentoring.
Design/methodology/approach – A cluster of nine innovation teams with varying degrees of cultural
diversity was provided with assessment and management instruments which had been identified and field
tested by a mentoring team. Content included cultural awareness tools, innovation team profiling methods
and Team Science (SciTS) ideology. Teams were funded, coached and mentored through a six-month
performance period and assessed at regular intervals.
Findings – Team assessments provided correlations between performance (measured by project completion
and new intellectual property generated) and diversity together with wealth of information on intra-team
culture and dynamics. Concrete recommendations from the study include adoption of appropriate
communication standards to promote inclusivity, use of SciTS operational tracking metrics to enhance
engagement, use of the FourSight group profiling methodology and cultural quotient scale cultural awareness
instruments at team-forming stage to promote effective dynamics and enhance inclusivity.
Practical implications – Cultural diversity has a positive impact on innovation teams. This said, for
maximum benefit cultural awareness of team members should be optimized to avoid unintended conflicts
developing. Such issues can be exacerbated when teams are deployed remotely and preventative measures
should be established. These issues became of heightened significance as a result of telecommuting imposed
by the COVID-19 pandemic and have longer-term implications, as corporations consider global air travel
reduction through environmental concerns. A tracking tool is described to monitor team engagement and
promote inclusivity. It is expected that the learnings can influence how teams can best form, normalize and
operate within corporate innovation programs and form the basis of long-term impact studies.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Implementation, Assessment, Innovation, Culture, Diversity, Inclusion, Ideation, Team science
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2022 00:45
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2022 00:45


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