Thursday, April 16, 2015

Boundary Multiplicity: Rethinking Teams and Boundedness in the Light of Today’s Collaborative Environment

Read the working paper
INSEAD Working Paper 2015/31/OBH revised version of 2013/36/OB

The dynamism, competitiveness, and scope of work forces organizations to utilize teams with boundaries that are fluid, overlapping, and often disagreed upon. These traits – which I argue are frequently not reflected in the way in which we characterize teams in our thinking and theorizing – are all deeply tied to teams’ boundedness. Using a review of the past 25 years of teams research I explore the extent to which these characteristics are reflected in our scholarship. I outline the serious theoretical and methodological implications of this divergence between our theories and teams in practice and identify key issues that arise when theories based on well-bounded teams are applied to unbounded- or weaklybounded teams. I provide concrete recommendations for how to design future studies in terms of both theory and methods and highlight key questions regarding how we think about and in some cases define teams and their boundaries.