Setting the stage for effective teams: a meta-analysis of team design variables and team effectiveness
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Teams are pervasive in organizations and provide an important contribution to organizational productivity. Since Hackman's (1987) seminal work, the team research focus has shifted from describing teams to outlining how researchers might use points of leverage, such as team design, to increase team effectiveness. There has been a wealth of research on team design variables that relate to team effectiveness. However, more than 15 years later, the team design literature remains fragmented and is inconsistent, and conclusions regarding optimal team design are difficult to make. The present study sought to unify the team design research by proposing a conceptual model and testing hypothesized relationships between specified design variables and team effectiveness using meta-analytic techniques. Specifically, the objectives of this study were to: (a) identify team design variables over which researchers and practitioners have some degree of control, (b) summarize the literature related to each of these variables, (c) hypothesize how each of the design variables are related to team effectiveness, (d) assess the relationship between these variables and team effectiveness using meta-analysis, (e) assess the influence of specified moderator variables (e.g., study setting, team tenure) on the team design variable/team effectiveness relationships, (f) make theoretically- and empirically-based recommendations for the design of effective teams, and (g) highlight areas in need of additional research. Results indicated that several team design variables show promise as a means of increasing team effectiveness. The strength of the team composition variable/team performance relationships was dependent on the study setting (lab or field); however, the study setting had considerable overlap with the type of team assessed (intellectual or physical). For lab studies (intellectual teams), team general mental ability (GMA) and task-relevant expertise were strong predictors of team performance, while team personality variables were unrelated to team performance. In field studies (physical teams), team agreeableness and conscientiousness had stronger relationships with team performance than team GMA and team task-relevant expertise. Team task design variables (e.g., task significance) had consistent, positive relationships with team performance, and several team structure variables (e.g., degree of self- management) were also related to team performance.
teams and work groups
Bell, Suzanne Tamara (2004). Setting the stage for effective teams: a meta-analysis of team design variables and team effectiveness. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from