It's Only Temporary: Time Frame and the Dynamics of Creative Project Teams


  • The authors gratefully acknowledge helpful comments by Remus Illies, Candy Jones, Joerg Sydow, Ramon Rico and Petre Curseu. We also thank Sander Smit for his considerable help in collecting data, and TiasNimbas Business School for its continuous support for the project. All remaining errors are our own.

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The success of many knowledge-intensive industries depends on creative projects that lie at the heart of their logic of production. The temporality of such projects, however, is an issue that is insufficiently understood. To address this, we study the perceived time frame of teams that work on creative projects and its effects on project dynamics. An experiment with 267 managers assigned to creative project teams with varying time frames demonstrates that, compared to creative project teams with a relatively longer time frame, project teams with a shorter time frame focus more on the immediate present, are less immersed in their task and utilize a more heuristic mode of information processing. Furthermore, we find that time frame moderates the negative effect of team conflict on team cohesion. These results are consistent with our theory that the temporary nature of creative projects shapes different time frames among project participants, and that it is this time frame that is an important predictor of task and team processes.