Characteristics and Diversity
A team consists of two or more people who work interdependently over some time period
to accomplish common goals related to some task-oriented purpose.
11.1: What are the five general team types and their defining characteristics?
Work teams are designed to be relatively permanent. Their purpose is to produce
goods or provide services, and they generally require a full-time commitment from their
Management teams are similar to work teams in that they are designed to be
relatively permanent; however, they are also distinct in a number of important ways.
Whereas work teams focus on the accomplishment of core operational-level production
and service tasks, management teams participate in managerial-level tasks that affect the
Parallel teams are composed of members from various jobs who provide
recommendations to managers about important issues that run “parallel” to the
organization’s production processes. Parallel teams require only part-time commitment
from members, and they can be permanent or temporary, depending on their aim.
Project teams are formed to take on “one-time” tasks that are generally complex and
require a lot of input from members with different types of training and expertise.
Although project teams exist only as long as it takes to finish a project.
Action teams perform tasks that are normally limited in duration. However, those
tasks are quite complex and take place in contexts that are either highly visible to an
audience or of a highly challenging nature.
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❖ Virtual teams are teams in which the members are geographically dispersed, and
interdependent activity occurs through electronic communications—primarily e-mail,
instant messaging, group calendars, web conferencing, social media, and other meeting
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❖ Forming, members orient themselves by trying to understand their boundaries in the
❖ Storming, members remain committed to ideas they bring with them to the team.
❖ Norming, members realize that they need to work together to accomplish team goals,
and consequently, they begin to cooperate with one another.
❖ Performing, members are comfortable working within their roles, and the team makes
progress toward goals.
❖ Adjourning. In this stage, members experience anxiety and other emotions as they
disengage and ultimately separate from the team.
11.2: What are the three general types of team interdependence?
1) Task interdependence refers to the degree to which team members interact with
and rely on other team members for the information, materials, and resources needed
to accomplish work for the team.
➢ The type of task interdependence with the lowest degree of required coordination is
pooled interdependence. With this type of interdependence, group members
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complete their work assignments independently, and then this work is simply “piled up”
to represent the group’s output.
➢ Sequential interdependence. With this type of interdependence, different tasks are
done in a prescribed order, and the group is structured such that the members
specialize in these tasks. Although members in groups with sequential interdependence
interact to carry out their work, the interaction occurs only between members who
perform tasks that are next to each other in the sequence.
➢ Reciprocal interdependence is the next type of task interdependence. Similar to
sequential interdependence, members are specialized to perform specific tasks.
However, instead of a strict sequence of activities, members interact with a subset of
other members to complete the team’s work.
➢ Comprehensive interdependence requires the highest level of interaction and
coordination among members as they try to accomplish work.
2) In addition to being linked to one another by task activities, members may be linked by
their goals. A high degree of goal interdependence exists when team members have
a shared vision of the team’s goal and align their individual goals with that vision as a
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3) The final type of interdependence relates to how members are linked to one another in
terms of the feedback and outcomes they receive as a consequence of working in the
team. A high degree of outcome interdependence exists when team members share
in the rewards that the team earns, with reward examples including pay, bonuses, formal
feedback and recognition, pats on the back, extra time off, and continued team survival.
11.3: What factors are involved in team composition?
Team composition—or the mix of people who make up the team. The team seemed to
have the right mix of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personalities. Team members were not
only capable of performing their role responsibilities effectively, but they also cooperated and
got along fairly well together.
❖ Leader–staff teams, the leader makes decisions for the team and provides direction
and control over members who perform assigned tasks, so this distinction makes sense
in that the responsibilities of the leader and the rest of the team are distinct.
❖ Team task roles refer to behaviors that directly facilitate the accomplishment of team
tasks. Examples include the orienter who establishes the direction for the team, the
devil’s advocate who offers constructive challenges to the team’s status quo, and the
energizer who motivates team members to work harder toward team goals.
❖ Team-building roles refer to behaviors that influence the quality of the team’s social
climate. Specific examples of team-building roles include the harmonizer who steps in
to resolve differences among teammates, the encourager who praises the work of
teammates, and the compromiser who helps the team see alternative solutions that
teammates can accept.
❖ Individualistic roles reflect behaviors that benefit the individual at the expense of the
team. For example, the aggressor “puts down” or deflates fellow teammates. The
recognition seeker takes credit for team successes. The dominator manipulates
teammates to acquire control and power.
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MEMBER ABILITY: team members possess a wide variety of abilities, depending on
the nature of the tasks involved in the team’s work, some of these may be important to
consider in team design. The member who possesses the highest level of the ability
relevant to the task will have the most influence on the effectiveness of the team. These
types of tasks are called disjunctive tasks. Tasks like this, for which the team’s
performance depends on the abilities of the “weakest link,” are called conjunctive
tasks. Finally, there are additive tasks, for which the contributions resulting from the
abilities of every member “add up” to determine team performance.
MEMBER PERSONALITY: Team members also possess a wide variety of personality
traits. These personality traits affect the roles that team members take on, the norms
that develop on the team, and ultimately, how teams’ function and perform as units.
11.4: What are the types of team diversity and how do they influence team functioning?
DIVERSITY: Another aspect of team composition refers to the degree to which
members are different from one another in terms of any attribute that might be used by
someone as a basis of categorizing people. Diversity has positive effects is called the
value in diversity problem-solving approach. According to this perspective,
diversity in teams is beneficial because it provides for a larger pool of knowledge and
perspectives from which a team can draw as it carries out its work. diversity may have
detrimental effects on teams is called the similarity-attraction approach. According
to this perspective, people tend to be more attracted to others who are perceived as
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Surface-level diversity refers to diversity regarding observable attributes such as
race, ethnicity, sex, and age. Although this type of diversity may have a negative impact
on teams early in their existence because of similarity-attraction issues, those negative
effects tend to disappear as members become more knowledgeable about one another.
fault lines often occur in diverse groups, whereby informal subgroups develop based
on similarity in surface-level attributes such as gender or other characteristics. The
problem with fault lines is that knowledge and information possessed by one subgroup
may not be communicated to other subgroups in a manner that might help the entire
team perform more effectively.
Deep-level diversity, in contrast, refers to diversity with respect to attributes that are
less easy to observe initially but that can be inferred after more direct experience.
Differences in attitudes, values, and personality are good examples of deep-level
TEAM SIZE: How many members to include on a team?
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11.5: How do team characteristics influence team effectiveness?
One aspect of team effectiveness is team performance, which may include metrics such as
the quantity and quality of goods or services produced, customer satisfaction, the effectiveness
or accuracy of decisions, victories, completed reports, and successful investigations.
A second aspect of team effectiveness is team commitment, which is sometimes called
team viability, refers to the likelihood that the team can work together effectively into the
future. If the team experience is not satisfying and the members do not feel a bond with one
another or with the team itself, members may become disillusioned and focus their energy on
activities away from the team.
❖ Task interdependence has a moderate positive relationship with team performance and
a weak relationship with team commitment.
11.6: How can team compensation be used to manage team effectiveness?
Hybrid outcome interdependence, which means that members receive rewards that are
dependent on both their team’s performance and how well they perform as individuals.