The authors abstract makes these points:
Typically, project networks consist of a core set of team members who bring in noncore contributors (such as other company employees, suppliers, consultants or customers) from their personal networks to provide knowledge, information or feedback regarding the team’s task. The project network thus takes advantage of both the project team as a whole and the personal networks of the members.
A project network can be helpful whenever any of the following conditions is present:
The project scope is beyond the control and sphere of influence of the core team;
The task is complex, and it is unclear whether or not there is an optimal solution; or
Some of the knowledge necessary to create a high-value outcome resides elsewhere.
Managers can use a project’s kickoff meeting to set norms and expectations that members of the project team have the option to look outside the team for possible solutions to complex problems.
Some obvious points jump to mind:
Of course there are advantages as well. This staffing paradigm is really loose coupling of staff to the project; loose coupling is a good seed for innovation. If the company practices some form of free time, like the 20% free time at Google, then voluntary participation in an interesting project might be good use of the time.
And, it's been my experience that many IT shops, perhaps most small IT shops, don't really track the effort that goes into projects; rather, they track the headcount assignments and major milestones. So, there's really not an issue around cost or cost tracking, and there may be some real help towards milestones.
Bottom line: the MIT authors didn't give a hint about how this would work in the real world. But it could.
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