The influence of material resources on innovation projects: the role of resource elasticity

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Abstract

More (rather than fewer) material resources are thought to be the key driver in innovation project performance. Recent empirical evidence, however, suggests that the influence of material resource availability on innovation projects is not as simple and straightforwardly positive as it may seem. We build on the concept of an innovation project team's resource elasticity to disentangle the material resource–innovation output conundrum. This concept is analogous to the marketing concept of price elasticity and points to four types of innovation project teams based on their resource elasticity: In resource-elastic teams, the relationship between material resources and innovation outcomes is positive (hence, they are ‘resource driven’ when able to dispose of adequate material resources or ‘resource victims’ when lacking these material resources). In contrast, and as a significant departure from previous work, resource-inelastic teams show no or even a negative relationship between material resource adequacy and team performance (thus, the teams are ‘resourceful’ if they can perform with limited material resources or ‘resource burners’ if they show low success with adequate material resources). Because neither adequate nor inadequate material resources seem to be a reliable predictor of success, we synthesize empirical research efforts that point to each team type's key characteristics to derive novel implications for managing innovation projects.

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