When is traditionalism an asset and when is it a liability for team innovation? A two-study empirical examination

Laura Huang, Cristina B Gibson, Bradley L Kirkman, Debra L Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
258 Downloads (Pure)


Team innovation requires idea generating and idea implementing. In two studies, we examine how these team activities are affected by the extent to which members value traditionalism – that is, placing importance on preserving old ways of doing things over breaking precedent and forging new approaches. We proposed that higher average levels of team traditionalism would be negatively associated with idea generating but positively associated with idea implementing. Conversely, we proposed the opposite effects for diversity on team traditionalism. Further, we argued that these effects would be mediated by team process conflict because diversity on team traditionalism might make it more likely that members will debate what to retain versus newly adopt, and team agreement is more likely to occur when team members’ values are shared, rather than discrepant, with one another. Supporting our assertions, we found that whether traditionalism is an asset or liability for team innovation depends on whether (1) the average level (versus diversity) of team traditionalism is examined; and (2) idea generating versus idea implementing is of primary importance. Specifically, idea generating benefits from higher diversity on team traditionalism, whereas idea implementing benefits from higher average levels of team traditionalism. We discuss theoretical and practical implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-715
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


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