Coping with uncertainty: Knowledge sharing in new product development projects

Gregory N. Stock, Jacob Chia An Tsai, James J. Jiang, Gary Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The automotive industry is a leader in the use of design agents to create components for new and redesigned vehicles. In the resulting interorganizational relationship, uncertainties at project inception add to the difficulty of delivering new component designs and force knowledge transference to comply with requirements as the project progresses. Organizational Information Processing Theory drives a research framework to examine the levels of knowledge exchange appropriate under prevailing uncertainty. A survey of over 300 design agencies validates the framework. Results show non-linear relationships with both positive and negative aspects of knowledge exchange that vary according to the levels of uncertainty, knowledge requirements, and exchange capacity. Theoretical implications include confirming mediated impacts of uncertainty and structured communication on project productivity plus the addition of precise alignment of knowledge requirements and knowledge exchanges. Design agencies must secure adequate, but not excessive, knowledge exchange. Researchers may consider the framework as a basis for extending the effect of uncertainty on consequential performance, as opposed to assuming uncertainty will impede effectiveness or testing uncertainty and managerial interventions as separate contingencies. Managers must work to carefully identify knowledge requirements at project commencement and establish appropriate communication structures and practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Automotive industry
  • Design agencies
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Organizational information processing theory
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Building and Construction
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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