4954 teamwork

of informal groups in influencing work related
Two strands of thought about teams emerged
in the 1960s and 1970s. The first focused on
the whole team and examined unconscious phe
nomena in work teams (Bion 1961). Bion argued
that teams developed basic assumptions in
discussions of organizational culture, which
could impede their effective functioning. These
include basic assumptions of dependence (one of
the teams members will look after the needs
of the team and ensure its effectiveness); pairing
(two team members will join together to pro
duce a leader in some way, leading to a sense of
messianic anticipation in the team); and fight
flight (the team meets to fight an enemy or run
away, and is consequently unable to do any
effective work). However, little research has
been stimulated by this approach.
The second strand has led to considerably
more theorizing and research internationally.
The sociotechnical tradition proposed that social
and task related outcomes can be optimized
through appropriate task and work design the
well being of team members can be achieved in
conjunction with team performance, through the
joint optimization of the application of technol
ogy, organization, and the use of human
In the last 20 years, there has been an alto
gether new emphasis amongst writers concerned
with understanding work team effectiveness
the organizational context within which teams
perform (Hackman 1990; Guzzo & Shea 1992).
Hackman (1990), for example, has drawn atten
tion to the influence of organizational reward,
training, and information systems in influencing
team effectiveness.
Guzzo and Shea developed a reciprocal model
of team effectiveness. They argue that outcome
interdependence among team members leads to
higher team effectiveness. Outcome interdepen
dence refers to the extent to which team members
are dependent on each other to achieve organiza
tional rewards such as recognition, career
advancement, and financial rewards. Task inter
dependence moderates the relationship between
outcome interdependence and effectiveness,
because outcome interdependence can only lead
to greater effectiveness if team members are
required to work interdependently to get the job
done. But the most significant element of the
model (theoretically) is the concept of potency,
rather like self efficacy but at the team level char
acterized by a team sense of likely success and
ability to meet challenges. This is a direct predic
tor of team effectiveness in the model. They
extended this approach by proposing that potency
best predicts team effectiveness in conjunction
with three other factors the alignment of team
goals with organizational goals, organizational
rewards for team accomplishments, and the avail
ability of resources for teams.
Another model of team effectiveness has been
developed from a focus on team reflexivity. West
(1996) argues that most models of team perfor
mance tend to present static rather than dynamic
processes, yet teams often change rapidly as a
result of experience and member turnover,
requiring repeated adaptation of communication
and decision making processes. West proposes
that what may best predict team effectiveness is
an overarching factor influencing all aspects of
team performance team task reflexivity. He
argues that teams are effective to the extent that
they reflect upon their task objectives, strategies,
processes, and environments and adapt these
aspects of their functioning accordingly. In rela
tion to the wider organizational environment,
non reflexive teams will tend to comply unques
tioningly with organizational demands and expec
tancies; accept organizational limitations; fail to
discuss or challenge organizational incompe
tence; communicate indebtedness and depen
dence on the organization; and rely heavily on
organizational direction and reassurance. Reflex
ive teams, in contrast, are more likely to be
agents of innovative change within the organiza
tion, developing ideas for new and improved
products, services, or ways of working.
This brief account of some of the major the
oretical approaches illustrates the move toward
less descriptive models, which take into account
organizational factors and reveal too that
researchers are coming to terms with the inher
ent complexity and cloudiness of real teams in


Much effort has been devoted to understanding
the factors which promote team effectiveness.
The thinking of most researchers has been