Complex engineering design tasks require teams of engineers with different skills and unique knowledge sets to work together to develop a solution. In these contexts, team communication is critical to successful design outcomes. Previous research has identified effective management of communication frequency as an important dimension of team communication leading to improved design outcomes. Organization research literature has demonstrated a curvilinear relationship in which both frequent and infrequent communication may hamper organizational performance. In contrast, recent work in engineering design research has found an inverse relationship between frequency and technical system performance for simple design tasks. This paper extends this work quantifying the impact of communication frequency on technical system performance by examining multi-disciplinary problems. Results from a multi-agent simulation on a six discipline parameter design task for minimizing the weight of a geostationary satellite are presented. Simulation results suggest that the form of relationship between frequency and performance changes significantly depending on the communication pattern. The evidence suggests that for the same design task a planned periodic communication pattern results in a curvilinear relationship, whereas for a stochastic communication pattern a less pronounced monotonic inverse relationship is found.

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