Team adaptation to an unforeseen system failure: Limits of the potential aids of shared knowledge and standardized communication.

P.C Sander, R.R.A. van Doorn, J. van der Pal, F.R.H. Zijlstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The present study investigates the potential benefits of a team's shared knowledge and standardized communication in adapting to an unforeseen change by combining literature on adaptation and team performance. Each of 20 teams performed a dynamic team task and was suddenly confronted with a simulated partial system breakdown. Results show that a methodological framework designed to describe performance adaptation to an unforeseen change in individuals can also be used to model performance adaptation in teams. The system failure was followed by a performance drop and a subsequent period of gradual performance recovery. Accuracy of teams' shared knowledge correlated positively with performance before and after the change, confirming and extending the literature on shared mental models. However, the amount of knowledge similarity did not aid teams in adapting to the unforeseen system breakdown. In addition, improving teams' standardized communication had no damping effect on the sudden performance drop and neither helped them during the subsequent recovery period. These results show that even though shared knowledge and efficient communication are of high value to team performance and success, these characteristics are limited in aiding adaptive team performance after unforeseen unique changes that force team members to update their strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)796-811
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Volume24
Issue number5
Early online date5 Feb 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2015

Keywords

  • ACCURACY
  • COGNITIVE-ABILITY
  • COORDINATION
  • Continuous growth modelling
  • EVENTS
  • MENTAL MODELS
  • METAANALYSIS
  • PERFORMANCE
  • RANDOM COEFFICIENT MODELS
  • SIMILARITY
  • STRATEGIES
  • Shared knowledge
  • Standardized communication
  • Unforeseen unique change

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