Innovation teams are in. Ever since the early 1990's, when a significant number of companies in Europe and the United States began to reorganize their innovation efforts around multidisplinary teams, academics and practitioners alike have been analyzing the organizational changes and coping with the managerial challenges wrought by the new team form of work.

As companies devolve more responsibility to teams and as the task of innovation grows more multidisciplinary and complex, traditional structures of organizational command and channels of information flow are breaking down. But reorganizing around teams precipitates a crisis in the legitimacy of organizational hierarchy. This is where the concept of procedural fairness comes in. Procedural fairness relates to the process used by the decision-maker, rather than the decision itself. It is based on the premise that a process which is fair and unbiased will lead to a fair decision.

The paper argues that procedural fairness in decision-making is a means for building commitment and understanding in the innovation organization assembled around changing teams. Since procedural fairness requires both empathy and deep knowledge of business processes on the part of team members, it may be necessary to support the introduction of procedural fairness as a team decision guideline with cross-functional training programs.

(Adapted from “Procedural Fairness: A Key To Innovation Team Management” by H. Korine, INSEAD Working Papers)

(This article was published on June 29, 2012)
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