Date of Award

12-1991

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Eric Sundstrom

Committee Members

Gregory H. Dobbins, Joyce E. A. Russell, John Lounsbury

Abstract

This study examined the relationship of team effectiveness and members' implicit theories of team development. Implicit theories are individuals' preconceptions of the relative importance of team development variables associated with team effectiveness. Team development variables assessed in this study were communication, cohesion, norms, role clarity, conflict, and participation.

The first hypothesis predicted a direct relationship between implicit theories of team development and behavior. Hypothesis one also predicted this relationship would be enhanced by convergence of individual implicit theories with remaining team members' implicit theories. It was also hypothesized that there is a positive relationship between convergence of implicit theories among team members and team viability (hypothesis 2) and team performance (hypothesis 3).

Participants were 224 upper-level management students, representing 50 teams, enrolled in a business policies course at a major university. At the beginning of the school term team member implicit theories were measured using a survey questionnaire. Students, divided into teams, completed a naturally occurring team project during the term. At the end of the term, team member behavior and team viability were measured using survey questionnaires and team performance was evaluated by the course instructor. Convergence of implicit theories among team members was calculated using a profile similarity measure.

The perceived relative importance of team development dimensions for the participants were as follows (from most to least important): participation, communication, roles, norms, cohesion, and conflict avoidance. Females rated team development dimensions more important than did males.

Results of simple correlation analyses suggest a direct relationship between individual implicit theories of team development and behavior on a global level and for specific team development dimensions (communication, cohesion, norms, roles, conflict, and participation). Regression analyses indicate that convergence of individual implicit theories with team members' implicit theories was a moderating variable between implicit theories and behavior for global implicit theories as well as for the norms, roles, and conflict dimensions.

Significant relationships were identified between convergence of role clarity implicit theories and team viability. Convergence of implicit theory profiles and role clarity implicit theories were significantly correlated with team performance. No other significant relationships between convergence of implicit theories (communication, cohesion, norms, conflict, participation) and team outcomes were found.

This study provides empirical support for the notion that cognitive structures guide behavior. The link between implicit theories and team outcomes also has major practical implications by identifying an important antecedent to team effectiveness.

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