Read the working paper
INSEAD Working Paper 2013/37/OB revised version of 2012/94/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 mental models of membership increasingly diverge within teams as a result of changing environmental conditions. I build on the literatures on membership and on shared mental models to explore such “membership model divergence”. In a study of 38 formally defined software and product development teams, I test a model of structural and emergent drivers of membership model divergence, and examine its effect on performance operating through team-level cognition. I use the findings of this study to explore its implications for both management theory and managerial practice.