Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teams have changed: Catching up to the Future Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5(1) (2012) 48-52

Although global trends are changing the face of teams, the focal article (Tannenbaum, Mathieu, Salas, & Cohen, 2012) remains anchored in the present and the past and barely acknowledges the future. It is clear that radical changes are ahead for teams, and unless we refocus on truly modern team phenomena, anticipate the future, and alter our theorizing and methods accordingly, we will never catch up. Although Tannenbaum et al. propose incremental next steps in the evolution of teams scholarship, we suggest something bolder: What if we were to leapfrog research questions that have barely caught up to the present and focus instead on teams of the future? Telecommunications provides a useful analogy. Rather than investing in infrastructure to extend wired telephone service to remote locations,many developing nations have moved directly to cellular technologies—leapfrogging a generation in telecom’s ‘‘natural’’ evolution. We urge our colleagues who study teams to do likewise. Let’s take the three areas the authors identify and imagine what it would look like to study modern team phenomena in ways that could inform practice rather than trail it.