The team causes and consequences of team membership change

Jia Li, Daan van Knippenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Teams are open dynamic systems with malleable membership. Depending on the specific attributes of new, incumbent, and departing members, membership change implies different changes in different aspects of team composition and structure and cannot be studied assuming all membership changes are created equal. We integrate evidence concerning team membership change in the management and psychology literatures and propose a theoretical framework to guide future research. The core mechanisms in the framework are: Membership change disrupts team cognitive, affective, motivational, and behavioral processes and states that require individual members’ actions and interactions to be developed and sustained and thereby jeopardize team performance at least in the short term. Yet, teams can adapt to membership change and recovers performance in the long term. To what extent teams experience the disruptive detriment and adaptive benefit will depend on (a) the magnitude of membership change, (b) the improvement or deterioration in team knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) and (c) task resources and social support inside and outside the team. Moreover, poor team performance and poor team experiences are the two main causes for team membership change. We discuss how this evidence-based integration helps to advance team membership research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-606
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Issue number2
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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