teamwork 4957

Research on participation in decision making
has a long history, revealing that participation
tends to foster greater team effectiveness and
commitment. When people participate in deci
sion making through having influence, inter
acting with those involved in the change
process, and sharing information, they tend to
invest in the outcomes of those decisions and to
offer ideas for new and improved ways of work
ing. In Europe, schemes to increase participa
tion have resulted in higher levels of innovation
among industrial workers. At the organizational
level, most writers concur that high centraliza
tion of decision making (low participation)
inhibits innovation, although there is limited
empirical evidence to support these views.
Task conflict. A central theme in the team
work literatures is that divergent thinking and
the management of competing perspectives are
important processes in teamwork. Such pro
cesses are characteristic of task related team
conflict and controversy. Tjosvold and collea
gues have argued similarly that constructive
controversy in teams improves the quality of
decision making (Tjosvold 1991). Constructive
controversy is characterized by full exploration
of opposing opinions and frank analyses of task
related issues. Constructive controversy occurs
when decision makers believe they are in a
cooperative team context where mutually bene
ficial goals are emphasized, rather than in a
competitive context, where decision makers feel
their personal competence is confirmed rather
than questioned, and where they perceive pro
cesses of mutual influence rather than attempted
dominance. Another perspective on conflict
comes from minority influence theory. A num
ber of researchers have shown that minority
consistency of arguments over time is likely to
lead to change in majority views in teams
(Nemeth & Owens 1996). A homogeneous team
in which minority dissent is suppressed will
reduce creativity, innovation, individuality, and


The final component of the inputprocessout
put model is outputs and this refers to team
effectiveness or productivity, team innovation
(new and improved products, services, ways of
working), team member well being and satis
faction, and team viability and attachment (the
cohesion and commitment to the team shown
by team members). This model continues to
dominate in research but it is giving way to
new concerns.

The focus of research is increasingly turning
toward an understanding of micro and macro
processes hitherto neglected by researchers and
theorists. The first is a concern with agreement
within teams about their perceptions of team
processes and outputs manifested in theorizing
about team mental models. These refer to
team members implicit and (to a greater or
lesser extent) shared models of their team and
its functioning as well as the wider environment
with which the team engages (schema congru
ence and accuracy). High levels of congruence
and accuracy are predicted to relate to team
effectiveness. The methodological challenges
of measuring shared mental models are yet to
be overcome.
This concern is matched by a strong focus on
trust, identity, and attachment in teams as fac
tors that promote individual cooperation in
teams (Korsgaard et al. 2003). Trust is defined
as the individuals intention to accept vulner
ability to the group based on the expectation
that the group will act in a considerate and
benevolent manner toward the individual
(Korsgaard et al. 2003: 116).
However, the most vigorous new develop
ments in this area are likely to relate to research
into team based organizations (Agarwal 2003).
The study of work teams has developed rich
understanding of social processes and perfor
mance in organizations (West et al. 2003) and
the future for this area is immensely promising.
The challenge now is to understand the func
tioning of team based organizations (or multi
team systems) and how they can be structured
and developed to maximize the benefits of this
basic form of human functioning in modern,
large, complex organizational settings. More
over, as alliances and networks develop within