Skunkworks projects usually derive from need of fulfilling rapid innovation cycles, as an alternative from relying on the ‘normal’ R&D organization and ‘traditional’ innovation processes. In order to secure appropriate progress and maximize success chances, skunkworks projects have very different organizational requirements from those of ‘regular’ organizations – e.g., cross functional and diverse teams, no bureaucracy, generous funding, low hierarchy, and location away from the rest of the company. Although these requirements carry human resource (HR) implications, research on the connection between skunkworks projects and HR issues is almost nonexistent. Hence, we tackle a timely research gap, posing the following question: what are the key HR practices and dynamics that best support (global excellence) skunkworks projects aimed at boosting radical innovation? We develop an exploratory case study of a recent, global excellence skunkworks project (‘Hybrid Air’ engine radical innovation) at PSA Peugeot Citroën, a leading multinational company in the automobile industry. Our main contribution is our proposal of a number of (global excellence) skunkworks boosting HR practices and dynamics: extreme empowerment and autonomy in job design and task development, extensive team-based training, creativity based performance appraisal, participative decision making systems, ultra open job descriptions, ‘undercover’ (extremely discreet) recruitment and selection processes, and turbulence oriented employee flexibility.
DONADA, C., OLTRA, V. and ALEGRE, J. (2016). Boosting Radical Innovation Through Global Excellence Skunkworks Projects in Multinational Companies: Key Human Resource Practices and Dynamics. In: 42nd Annual Conference of the European International Business Academy.