The March 2012 issue of issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is now available online, with articles exploring topics from team effectiveness and group identification to technological change. Click here to view the Table of Contents.
The lead article, “Performance Pressure as a Double-edged Sword: Enhancing Team Motivation but Undermining the Use of Team Knowledge,” was published by Heidi K. Gardner of Harvard Business School. Dr. Gardner explains in the abstract:
In this paper, I develop and empirically test the proposition that performance pressure acts as a double-edged sword for teams, providing positive effects by enhancing the team’s motivation to achieve good results while simultaneously triggering process losses. I conducted a multimethod field study of 78 audit and consulting teams from two global professional firms, revealing an irony of team life: even though motivated to perform well on a high-stakes project, pressured teams are more likely to engage in performance-detracting behaviors. Survey results show that, as performance pressure increases, team members begin to overly rely on general expertise while discounting domain-specific expertise, leading to suboptimal performance. I then use longitudinal qualitative case studies of six project teams across two firms to explore the underlying behavioral mechanisms that generate this outcome. Results reveal four limiting team processes: (1) a drive toward consensus, (2) a focus on common knowledge, (3) a shift from learning to project completion, and (4) increased conformity to the status hierarchy. Results also show that only domain-specific expertise—the kind that teams underuse when facing higher pressure—increases client-rated team performance. I thus find, paradoxically, that when teams need domainspecific expertise the most, they tend to use it the least, despite evidence suggesting they are highly motivated to do well on their task.
Administrative Science Quarterly is a top-rank, quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that publishes the best theoretical and empirical papers on organizational studies from dissertations and the evolving, new work of more established scholars, as well as interdisciplinary work in organizational theory, and informative book reviews. To learn more about the journal, please follow this link.
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