Forging Work Teams: Effects of the Distribution of ... - Xavier University

xavier.edu

Forging Work Teams: Effects of the Distribution of ... - Xavier University

compensatory strategy is at work during the selection process. That is, if we were to askwhy an individual with low cognitive ability would be selected for the job, one reasonwould be that they had other abilities that compensated for their cognitive ability score.Thus, it is possible that the low cognitive ability applicants had other strengths, such asprevious production experience, knowledge of welding, or being highly motivated.These alternative strengths proved to be especially important when working within thegroup or team context.The disjunctive function of team member cognitive ability, operationalized as thecognitive ability of the highest ability team member, was hypothesized to be positivelyrelated to idea generation. This hypothesis was not supported. This index was notsignificantly related to any of the measures of team performance.Perhaps the most surprising finding from the tests of these hypotheses was thataverage team member cognitive ability was not significantly related to any of theindices of team performance, as was originally hypothesized. This is surprising becauseprevious research has consistently found that teams composed of higher cognitiveability team members tend to outperform teams of lesser cognitive ability (Devine &Philips, 2001; Laughlin et al., 1969; O’Brien & Owens, 1969; Tziner & Eden, 1985). Infact, for teams with fewer than eight team members, average team member cognitiveability was significantly and negatively related to group leader ratings of team safety (r= -.52, p < .001). Furthermore, prior research in the current organization indicated thatthe cognitive ability index (i.e., a GATB composite) gathered as part of the selectionprocess, was significantly positively related to supervisor ratings of individual teammember performance. Thus, although cognitive ability was positively related toindividual team member performance, the mean cognitive ability was in some casesnegatively related to the performance of the overall team. This finding clearly runscounter to the common sense and the often-supported finding that the best teams arecomposed of the smartest team members.The results of this study can also be compared to the results of a meta-analysis ofthe team composition research conducted by Devine and Philips (2001). Using a sampleof 25 published and unpublished correlations, the results indicated the mean ofmembers’ scores was the best predictor of team performance, followed by the lowestand highest member’s individual cognitive ability scores. The authors concluded thatthese results are likely moderated by other variables, one of which was the setting of thestudy (lab versus field).The findings of this study were inconsistent with those of the meta-analysisconducted by Devine and Philips (2001), which found that the mean was the bestpredictor of team performance. This is likely the result of the setting in which the studywas performed: a field organization that utilized semi-autonomous production teams.On the surface, these findings appear to contradict the general results, but they dosupport the notion that cognitive ability of team members may be combined differentlydepending on the nature of the task performed. Devine and Philips (2001) asserted thatcognitive ability may not be as important in a production task as compared to anintellectual or information processing task. This was not entirely the case in this study;rather, a different method for combining team members’ cognitive ability emerges asmost important for predicting performance: heterogeneity. In addition, the notion ofperformance in this study was much broader than performance as measured by the meta-124

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines