Addressing performance tensions in multiteam systems: Balancing informal mechanisms of coordination within and between teams

Ziegert, J. C., Knight, A. P., Resick, C. J., & Graham, K. A. (In Press). Addressing performance tensions in multiteam systems: Balancing informal mechanisms of coordination within and between teams. Academy of Management Journal.

Abstract. Due to their distinctive features, multiteam systems (MTSs) face significant coordination challenges—both within component teams and across the larger system. Despite the benefits of informal mechanisms of coordination for knowledge-based work, there is considerable ambiguity regarding their effects in MTSs. To resolve this ambiguity, we build and test theory about how interpersonal interactions among MTS members serve as an informal coordination mechanism that facilitates team and system functioning. Integrating MTS research with insights from the team boundary spanning literature, we argue that the degree to which MTS members balance their interactions with members of their own component team (i.e., intrateam interactions) and with the members of other teams in the system (i.e., inter-team interactions) shapes team- and system-level performance. The findings of a multimethod study of 44 MTSs composed of 295 teams and 930 people show that as inter-team interactions exceed intrateam interactions, team conflict rises and detracts from component team performance. At the system level, balance between intra- and inter-team interactions enhances system success. Our findings advance understanding of MTSs by highlighting how informal coordination mechanisms enable MTSs to overcome their coordination challenges and address the unique performance tension between component teams and the larger system.

The effects of group affect on social integration and task performance

Knight, A. P., & Eisenkraft, N. (2015). Positive is usually good, negative is not always bad: The effects of group affect on social integration and task performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1214-1227.

Abstract. Grounded in a social functional perspective, this article examines the conditions under which group affect influences group functioning. Using meta-analysis, the authors leverage heterogeneity across 39 independent studies of 2,799 groups to understand how contextual factors—group affect source (exogenous or endogenous to the group) and group life span (one-shot or ongoing)—moderate the influence of shared feelings on social integration and task performance. As predicted, results indicate that group positive affect has consistent positive effects on social integration and task performance regardless of contextual idiosyncrasies. The effects of group negative affect, on the other hand, are context-dependent. Shared negative feelings promote social integration and task performance when stemming from an exogenous source or experienced in a 1-shot group, but undermine social integration and task performance when stemming from an endogenous source or experienced in an ongoing group. The authors discuss implications of their findings and highlight directions for future theory and research on group affect.

Who defers to whom and why?

Joshi, A., & Knight, A. P. (2015). Who defers to whom and why? Implications of demographic differences and dyadic deference for team effectiveness. Academy of Management Journal, 58, 59-84.

Abstract. We develop and test predictions about how demographic differences influence dyadic deference in multidisciplinary research teams, and how differential patterns of dyadic deference emerge to shape team-level effectiveness. We present a dual pathway model that recognizes that two distinct mechanisms—task contributions and social affinity— account for how team members’ demographic attributes contribute to deference. Furthermore, we propose that the extent to which these different mechanisms are prevalent in a team has implications for the team’s research productivity, with deference based on social affinity detracting from it and deference based on task contributions enhancing it. Using longitudinal data from a sample of 55 multidisciplinary research teams comprising 619 scientists, we found general support for our conceptual model. Our findings underscore the importance of accounting for multiple interpersonal mechanisms to understand the complex, multilevel nature of deference in teams.

Affect and change in exploratory search over time

Knight, A. P. (2015). Mood at the midpoint: Affect and change in exploratory search over time in teams that face a deadline. Organization Science, 26, 99-118.

Abstract. The purpose of this paper is to advance the team dynamics and group development literatures by developing and testing a theoretical model of how affect shapes transitions in teams over time. Integrating the group transitions literature with theory and research on the mood-as-input theory, I propose that shared team mood influences the extent to which team members seek out and experiment with alternative ways of completing their work at different points in a team’s life. In the first half of the team’s life, when team members are relatively task-focused, I argue that team positive mood (i.e., a positively valenced affective state shared by team members at a given point in time) stimulates, whereas team negative mood (i.e., a negatively valenced affective state shared by team members) suppresses, exploratory search. At the temporal midpoint, however, when team members’ focus on performance heightens, team positive mood acts as a shutoff switch for search, leading to a decline in exploratory search over the second half of the team’s life. Team negative mood at the midpoint, on the other hand, leads team members to persist in exploratory search, even as a deadline draws near. A team’s trajectory of exploratory search over time, I propose, influences team performance such that it is highest when teams engage in high exploratory search early in the team’s life and decline in exploratory search over the second half of the team’s life. The results of a longitudinal, survey-based study of teams preparing for a military competition largely support my predictions.

The effects of a non-sedentary workspace

Knight, A. P., & Baer, M. (2014). Get up, stand up: The effects of a non-sedentary workspace on information elaboration and group performance. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 910-917.

Abstract. Non-sedentary work configurations, which encourage standing rather than sitting in the course of work, are becoming increasingly prevalent in organizations. In this article, we build and test theory about how non-sedentary arrangements influence interpersonal processes in groups performing knowledge work—tasks that require groups to combine information to develop creative ideas and solve problems. We propose that a non-sedentary workspace increases group arousal, while at the same time decreasing group idea territoriality, both of which result in better information elaboration and, indirectly, better group performance. The results of an experimental study of 54 groups engaged in a creative task provide support for this dual pathway model and underscore the important role of the physical space in which a group works as a contextual input to group processes and outcomes.

When team members’ values differ

Klein, K. J., Knight, A. P., Ziegert, J. C., Lim, B. C., & Saltz, J. L. (2011). When team members’ values differ: The moderating effects of team leadership. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 114, 25-36.

Abstract. Integrating theory and research on values, diversity, situational strength, and team leadership, we proposed that team leadership moderates the effects of values diversity on team conflict. In a longitudinal survey study of national service teams, we found significant, but opposite, moderating effects of task-focused and person-focused leadership. As predicted, task-focused leadership attenuated the diversity–conflict relationship, while person-focused leadership exacerbated the diversity–conflict relationship. More specifically, task-focused leadership decreased the relationship between work ethic diversity and team conflict. Person-focused leadership increased the relationship between traditionalism diversity and team conflict. Team conflict mediated the effects of the interactions of leadership and values diversity on team effectiveness.

Impact of preoperative briefings on operating room delays

Nundy, A., Mukherjee, A., Sexton, J. B., Pronovost, P. J., Knight, A. P., Rowen, L., Duncan, M., Syin, D., & Makary, M. (2008). Impact of preoperative briefings on operating room delays: A preliminary report. Archives of Surgery, 143, 1068-1072.

Conclusions. Preoperative briefings reduced unexpected delays in the OR by 31% and decreased the frequency of communication breakdowns that lead to delays. Preoperative briefings have the potential to increase OR efficiency and thereby improve quality of care and reduce cost.

Dynamic delegation

Klein, K. J., Ziegert, J. C., Knight, A. P., & Xiao, Y. (2006). Dynamic delegation: Shared, hierarchical, and deindivididualized leadership in extreme action teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 51, 590-621.

Abstract. This paper examines the leadership of extreme action teams—teams whose highly skilled members cooperate to perform urgent, unpredictable, interdependent, and highly consequential tasks while simultaneously coping with frequent changes in team composition and training their teams’ novice members. Our qualitative investigation of the leadership of extreme action medical teams in an emergency trauma center revealed a hierarchical, deindividualized system of shared leadership. At the heart of this system is dynamic delegation: senior leaders’ rapid and repeated delegation of the active leader- ship role to and withdrawal of the active leadership role from more junior leaders of the team. Our findings suggest that dynamic delegation enhances extreme action teams’ ability to perform reliably while also building their novice team members’ skills. We highlight the contingencies that guide senior leaders’ delegation and withdrawal of the active leadership role, as well as the values and structures that motivate and enable the shared, ongoing practice of dynamic delegation. Further, we suggest that extreme action teams and other “improvisational” organizational units may achieve swift coordination and reliable performance by melding hierarchical and bureaucratic role-based structures with flexibility-enhancing processes. The insights emerging from our findings at once extend and challenge prior leadership theory and research, paving the way for further theory development and research on team leadership in dynamic settings.

Teamwork in the operating room

Sexton, J. B., Makary, M., Tersigni, A., Pryor, D., Hendrich, A., Thomas, E., Holzmueller, C., Knight, A. P., Wu, Y., & Pronovost, P. (2006). Teamwork in the operating room: Frontline perspectives among hospital and operating room personnel. Anesthesiology, 105, 877-884.

Background & ConclusionsThe Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is proposing that hospitals measure culture beginning in 2007.However, a reliable and widely used measurement tool for the operating room (OR) setting does not currently exist. Rigorous assessment of teamwork climate is possible using this psychometrically sound teamwork climate scale. This tool and initial benchmarks allow others to compare their teamwork climate to national means, in an effort to focus more on what excellent surgical teams do well.

Variation in caregiver perceptions of teamwork climate

Sexton, J. B., Holzmueller, C., Pronovost, P. J., Thomas, E., McFerran, S., Nunes, J., Thompson, D., Knight, A. P., Penning, D., & Fox, H. (2006). Variation in caregiver perceptions of teamwork climate in labor and delivery units. Journal of Perinatology, 26, 463-470.

Objectives & Conclusions. To test the psychometric soundness of a teamwork climate survey in labor and delivery, examine differences in perceptions of teamwork, and provide benchmarking data. We demonstrate a psychometrically sound teamwork climate scale, correlate it to external teamwork-related items, and provide labor and delivery teamwork benchmarks. Further teamwork climate research should explore the links to clinical and operational outcomes.