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Team approach, idea generation, conflict and performance

Stephen Wood (School of Management, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
George Michaelides (Division of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Chris Thomson (Business School, University of Hull, Hull, UK)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 18 October 2011




The punctuated equilibrium model of group activity and the positive task conflict‐performance relationship are prominent in the team literature; however, their respective underlying concepts, team approach and ideas‐task complexity fit have been neglected. The first aim of the paper is to introduce these concepts, show how these underlie the two theories, and how they might be linked together in a novel way. The second aim is to illustrate the value of these ideas through the use of a case study of three teams working separately on an identical software engineering project.


The performance, conflict levels, approaches and ideas of three teams working on an identical software project are compared. The data were largely collected by observation of all the teams' meetings.


The findings show that the team approach and ideas‐task complexity fit are significant in determining performance. It is also found that ideas emerge as frequently outside of conflict as in it and that the team's approach shapes conflict, not vice versa. Though the team with the most conflict performed best, it was differences in approach and the matching of the variety of ideas (not conflict) to task complexity that was important. Conflict in the teams reflected the approach, influencing its execution more than its development.

Practical implications

The research highlights the importance of initial meetings and the need to consider the team approach concept in teamwork training.


The paper re‐emphasises the significance of Gersick's conception of team approach and the importance of the level of ideas fitting the complexity of the task, which is itself shaped by the approach; the case study makes a valuable contribution as it focuses on teams conducting an identical project for a single client.



Wood, S., Michaelides, G. and Thomson, C. (2011), "Team approach, idea generation, conflict and performance", Team Performance Management, Vol. 17 No. 7/8, pp. 382-404.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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