Advances in Interdisciplinary Studies of Work Teams: Volume 9


Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Teams often fail to achieve expected levels of high performance. The primary cause of failure is context. The team-based organization (TBO) focuses on creation of a context that enables teams to achieve their potential. The challenge is the transition from a traditional, hierarchical organization based on command-and-control management to a TBO organized around teams, empowerment, and involvement. This chapter focuses on the steps involved in a successful transformation process. The TBO change initiative is complex and requires years of learning and redesign to reach maturity.

This conceptual chapter addresses identification, development, and application of change management competencies directed at creating more collaborative work systems through transformation of existing businesses. The chapter draws on, and assesses, selected key ideas and works in the available literatures on change management and collaboration (applied both internally and externally), including reported cases of revealing successful and failed change efforts. Improved collaboration is posited to be desirable and feasible, in certain circumstances. Change management and organizational transformation are big and broad topics, with large conceptual and empirical literatures, as is the topic of collaborative work systems. There is here a deliberate narrowing of focus on how to obtain more collaboration in and between existing organizations, where desirable but not occurring naturally. Attention is explicitly directed to transformation of existing businesses as distinct from the relative managerial freedom afforded in startup situations and the almost natural change processes inherent in successful innovation firms. Any shift from conventional to collaborative work approaches is a transformational problem drawing on change management competencies. A fundamental difficulty is the absence of empirically verified theories immediately relevant to management practice. Useful knowledge on these important matters has been built up piecemeal and experientially.

Time to market, product quality, and product complexity are key organizational drivers. Many organizations have responded to these pressures by creating teams. While teams provide the right mix of personnel to respond to business and technical challenges faced by the organization, many organizations have failed to adjust their organizational processes, culture, and systems to create a context where teams can thrive. Identifying the key changes needed to support teams can be a daunting task. The ultimate goal of this research is the development of a tool that will allow organizational leaders to gain a better understanding of what organizational factors should be considered in designing an environment that will enable teams to perform at an optimal level. Previous research findings and semi-structured interviews of organizational leaders were used to develop a framework for studying these organizational processes, culture, and systems. A survey was developed to measure these different characteristics of the parent organization. Findings from the initial interviews and a pilot study utilizing the survey are summarized.

This chapter proposes a model, or blueprint, for team-based organizing. The goal is to help provide an overview of how teams integrate within the organization to achieve the organization's strategic objective. It positions managers as a key component and discusses three different levels of decision control. Finally, it offers seven key attributes of a team-based organization.

Recent reports suggest that the use of teams in organizations is increasing (Guzzo & Shea, 1992). In fact, many organizations are moving towards team-based approaches, where teams become the centerpiece of organizational structure. As a result of this emphasis on teamwork, it is becoming increasingly important for organizations to become skilled at identifying the task and skill requirements, as well as the cognitive demands of teams and team members. Effective identification of necessary team characteristics can inform several human resource management challenges for teams, including, team design, team training, rewards for team performance, team member selection, and the diagnosis and promotion of team effectiveness.

This paper suggests that one way to increase our understanding of teams is through the use of team task analysis (TTA). TTA is a process of analyzing and describing the tasks of teams and the jobs of team members and can be used to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), and attitude requirements relevant to team performance. Despite the obvious importance of TTA, reviews of the literature (Baker, Salas & Cannon-Bowers, 1998; Levine, Penner, Brannick, Coovert & Llobert, 1988) have found very little systematic work on the topic. Further, an examination of traditional job analysis sources (e.g. Gael, 1983; Gael, 1988; Harvey, 1992) revealed twelve pages devoted to TTA (Dieterly, 1988).

Based on the apparent lack of attention given to TTA, one purpose of this paper is to update previous work on TTA, by reviewing and integrating the existing literature. Another purpose of this paper is to offer researchers a foundation for additional theoretical work. Finally, we hope to contribute towards a framework, and/or tool, to aid practitioners in the delivery of human resource management services to teams.

In our review, we provide a comparison of individual task analysis vs. TTA and provide key points of departure between the two concepts. Additionally, a summary of TTA is provided as well as warnings to practitioners and researchers based on previous research and theorizing regarding the aggregation of data (e.g. Bowers, Baker & Salas, 1994; Brenner, Sheehan, Arthur & Bennett, 1998; Kenny & LaVoie, 1985; Klein, Dansereau & Hall, 1994; Rousseau, 1985). In particular, our warnings focus on the potential dangers associated with aggregating individual level information (e.g. individual job analysis data) to higher (e.g. team) levels.

Next, methods that have been used to collect TTA information are reviewed and classified. Then, the type of information gathered, such as, team competencies/skills (e.g. Cannon-Bowers, Tannenbaum, Salas & Volpe, 1995; Stevens & Campion, 1994), job characteristics (e.g. Campion, Medsker & Higgs, 1993; Campion, Papper & Medsker, 1996), and cognitive information (e.g. Brenner et al., 1998; Klein, 1993) are reviewed and categorized. Additionally, comparisons of individual cognitive task analysis (i.e. the mental processes needed to accomplish an individual task) and cognitive TTA (i.e. the integrative team mental processes needed to accomplish a team task) are provided.

We conclude with a presentation of criteria for evaluating TTA methodologies and a series of suggestions to guide both practitioners and researchers regarding future work in TTA. Our emphasis is on explaining the value of TTA and what it means to the reader, regardless of his/her occupation (e.g. practitioner or researcher).

This chapter analyzes the role of work team personality composition — or mix of individual personality traits — in team-based organizations. It offers a framework for analysis that identifies the key variables and relationships of importance to the TBO practitioner. Within that framework it reviews current, empirical evidence relevant to the links between individual personality and work team effectiveness. Finally, it identifies key, practical issues raised by work team personality composition for staffing in TBO, and proposes a series of best management practices.

This study investigates team leadership and coordination during a trauma resuscitation. A trauma resuscitation team is an emergency cross- functional medical team, which includes several specialists such as a surgeon, an anesthesia provider, and nurses. The main purpose of the team is to perform a resuscitation; treatment to a patient who experiences a trauma (e.g. car crash, stabbing, gunshot) and has a life-threatening injury. The trauma team can be seen as a type of crisis team since the need for treatment is quite intense and urgent. Team members must treat and stabilize the patient within minutes and without much information about his/her condition and medical history. As a result, this team is working in an intense and highly stressful situation. We used focused ethnography in order to gain an understanding of leadership and coordination during a trauma resuscitation. Over a period of six months, we observed admissions, shadowed teams, and interviewed specialists as a primary data collection method. Our findings suggest that the effectiveness of leadership differs depending on: (1) the severity level of patient condition; and (2) the level of team experience. Directive leadership is more effective when a patient is severely injured, whereas empowering leadership is more effective when a patient is not severely injured. Also, directive leadership is better when a trauma team is inexperienced, but empowering leader- ship is better when a trauma team has a high level of experience.

Advances in science, through the development of new products, processes, or theories, have a significant impact on today's society. Generating these breakthrough discoveries is a creative process that can be helped or hindered by a number of individual and contextual factors. Because of the complexity and scope of the work, much scientific investigation is done in teams; thus, team dynamics as well as individual characteristics help shape the quality of creative output. As teams do not operate in isolation within an organization, team leader behaviors and organizational factors also contribute to team creativity. When organizations and managers value, support, and reward creativity, a climate conducive to innovation is more likely to result.

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Advances in Interdisciplinary Studies of Work Teams
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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