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Composition of Skunk works team
Halmstad University, School of Business and Engineering (SET), Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL), Centre for Technology, Innovation and Marketing Management (CTIM2).
Halmstad University, School of Business and Engineering (SET), Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL), Centre for Technology, Innovation and Marketing Management (CTIM2).
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The focus of this thesis is to explore the composition of the Skunk works’ innovation team, which directly influences team performance. Such research is important in order to understand how the Skunk works team deals with innovation. Specifically, how the team’s size, diversity and the roles of team members can influence its performance and have an effect on its success.

During the time when we were looking for the definition of Skunk works we mostly found that it is a small group of highly qualified and skilled people in different fields. However, we did not find so many theories about the composition of Skunk works teams. This was due to the high level of secrecy in this field, because Skunk works was originally used only for military purposes. To have a more clear view, we decided to use theories from different research fields, such as research about Skunk works itself, and about team and team composition. We found that it is quite easy to find literature about the role of the leader as a member of the innovation team, who can also be known as the “champion”. However, on another hand we found that it is quite difficult to find information about the whole team, specifically about roles in the team. We believe that, even though the leader has a key role, a well-balanced combination of roles should be also taken into consideration in such teams.

The research method deployed in this thesis is multiple-case study, where we have used three cases which are operating in different companies and industries, such as entertainment, scientific research and industrial manufacturing, as well in different geographical positions, such as Sweden and Spain. We have collected data via interviews and secondary data, where we interviewed a representative of these three companies via personal interviews and by e-mail.

The findings from this thesis provide evidence that the team composition elements, such as roles in the team, as well its size and diversity can influence on further efficiency of the team. During our research we found that all three companies, especially teams in those companies, could be good examples of Skunk works. Moreover, during the research we found that our findings can be in line with existing studies, that it is unnecessary that the project should be in total secret or fully mandated and that there are a lot of other types of Skunk works teams as well. Also during the research we confirmed with other present studies required characteristics for the “champion” and for other team members. Another finding was about the optimal number of team members in a Skunk works team.

The main conclusions drawn from this thesis are that firstly, the composition of a Skunk works team can influence the further team productivity and success of the project. Secondly, that the optimal size of team should not exceed ten people. Thirdly, we can conclude that properly chosen roles as well as characteristics of team members can have an influence on the further success of an innovation project.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 76 p.
Keyword [en]
Skunk work team composition size roles diversity
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-19087OAI: diva2:538736
Subject / course
Strategic Management
2012-05-25, 212, Halmstad University, P Building, Halmstad, 08:15 (English)
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Antonio Estevez Luna
Available from: 2012-07-03 Created: 2012-07-02 Last updated: 2012-08-16Bibliographically approved

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