Are Systems‐Centered® teams more collaborative, productive and creative?

Richard O'Neill (Based at Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, USA)
Verena Murphy (Based at Department of Management and Information Systems, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA)
Jacqueline Mogle (Based at College of Health and Human Development, Penn State University, Altoona, Pennsylvania, USA)
Kristin L. MacGregor (Based at Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA)
Michael J. MacKenzie (Based at Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
Mariam Parekh (Based at Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA)
Mindy Pearson (Based at Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Publication date: 7 June 2013



Research from numerous theories shows teams' information sharing and discussion enhances effectiveness. Likewise, team communication structure can increase information sharing, manage conflict productively and foster creativity. However, the lack of unifying theory hinders understanding of the disparate research findings. Agazarian aims to unify the field with her meta‐theoretical, multi‐level Theory of Living Human Systems (TLHS). Furthermore, her TLHS‐derived Systems‐Centered Training (SCT) presents an innovative structure to improve team performance. The purpose of this paper is to compare the verbal process, productivity, and creativity of pre‐existing work groups using SCT methods or Robert's Rules of Order (RRO), to test TLHS/SCT reliability and validity.


The verbal characteristics, information sharing, productivity, and creativity in SCT and RRO teams were compared using the System for Analyzing Verbal Interaction (SAVI), Group Productivity Scale and Work Group Inventory.


SCT teams, compared to groups using RRO, talked in ways more likely to transfer and integrate task‐related information. Furthermore, SCT teams were more productive, better performing, and more creative.

Research limitations/implications

The study's design does not permit cause‐and‐effect conclusions. Proposals for future research are made.

Practical implications

The results suggest SCT methods improve team communication, productivity, and creativity. Because this study examined “real‐world” teams, the findings may apply to similar groups in various workplaces.

Social implications

Having the ability to use differences as resources could improve society.


This paper suggests SCT methods offer innovative communication structures that focus teams effectively, perhaps by minimizing off‐task communications and conflict. Also, as SCT operationally defines TLHS, these results support the validity of TLHS.



Richard O'Neill, Verena Murphy, Jacqueline Mogle, Kristin L. MacGregor, Michael J. MacKenzie, Mariam Parekh and Mindy Pearson (2013) "Are Systems‐Centered® teams more collaborative, productive and creative?", Team Performance Management, Vol. 19 No. 3/4, pp. 201-221

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