The premise of this research is that the engineering design process is partially driven by achieving consensus and reconciling points of view among team members. Characterizing the quality of the design performance by measuring the coherence of the description of related design concepts and events in design documentation is examined. Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) was used to analyze design documentation written by self-managing, cross-functional engineering design teams. Computational measurements of document variance and textual coherence were applied to the teams’ design documents, presentation materials and e-mail communication. The levels of semantic coherence were correlated to assessments by faculty and product designers and engineers from industry of the design teams’ process and outcome quality. The results indicated a statistically significant positive correlation between design document coherence and design performance, especially for poorly performing teams. The impact of this research is to provide team managers (people who create teams and manage teams) or self-organizing teams (teams that focus on self-reflection and peer evaluation) computational tools that could be integrated with design information management technologies to assist them in the management of engineering design teams.

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