Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Constructing the Team: The Antecedents and Effects of Membership Model Divergence
INSEAD Working Paper 2012/94/OB revised version of 2012/01/OB

Scholars have established that team membership has wide-ranging effects on cognition, dynamics, processes and performance. Underlying that scholarship is the assumption that team membership – who is and who is not a team member – is straightforward, unambiguous and agreed upon by all members. Contrary to this assumption, I posit that as a result of changing environmental conditions, mental models of membership increasingly diverge within teams. Building on the literature on shared mental models, I explore the antecedents and consequences of such divergence. In a study of 38 formally defined software and product development teams, I identify the structural and emergent drivers of this “membership model divergence” and examine its effect on performance operating through team-level cognition. I use the findings of this study to suggest an overall model of membership model divergence and explore its potential implications for both management theory and managerial practice.