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Challenges and New Directions in Examining Team Cohesion Over Time

Team Dynamics Over Time

ISBN: 978-1-78635-404-4, eISBN: 978-1-78635-403-7

ISSN: 1534-0856

Publication date: 4 August 2017



This chapter reviews the challenges associated with measuring and studying cohesion over time and provides guidance for addressing these issues in future research.


We reviewed the team cohesion and team development literatures, including definitions and conceptualizations of cohesion as well as the seminal team development taxonomies. We then integrated these literatures to identify the challenges and potential solutions for studying team cohesion as a dynamic construct.


We identified five key challenges – theoretical and practical in nature – that researchers and organizations often face in capturing and studying team cohesion emergence: problems with self-report measures; measuring multiple dimensions of cohesion at appropriate times; failure to combine multilevel and temporal frameworks; and tracking of team and organizational events. In response, we provide actions that researchers can take in addressing these challenges: using indirect/unobtrusive measures; using social network analysis; studying “swift cohesion”; adopting an event system theory framework; and applying agent-based modeling.

Research implications

This comprehensive chapter provides recommendations for studying team cohesion as a dynamic, emergent process rather than as a static state. We discuss the challenges pertaining to study design and measurement when capturing team cohesion emergence, and provide theoretical and practical ideas to guide researchers in overcoming these issues in future research.

Practical implications

This chapter suggests tools and data collection techniques that organizations and practitioners can use for measuring and improving team cohesion, such as using unobtrusive measures and timing measurement according to team and organizational events.



McClurg, C.E., Chen, J.L., Petruzzelli, A. and Thayer, A.L. (2017), "Challenges and New Directions in Examining Team Cohesion Over Time", Team Dynamics Over Time (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 18), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 261-286.



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