Team processes refer to the actions team members take to combine their individual resources, knowledge, and skill to resolve their task demands and achieve collective goals. These are distinct from team emergent states which refer to characteristic levels of feelings or thoughts among team members. The distinguishing feature between team processes and emergent states is that team processes represent actions team members take, whereas emergent states represent team member attitudes, values, cognitions, and motivations. Both team processes and emergent states are conceptually dynamic and can vary as a function of the other. Conceptual clarity regarding the nature of team processes has developed only in the prior two decades. Prior to that time team processes were broadly and ill-defined. Team processes have occupied the mediating role in traditional input-process-outcome (IPO) models. However, these models have evolved to position team processes within a larger category of mediating mechanisms in organizing frameworks of overlapping domains capturing team structural features, team compositional features, and mediating mechanisms, all embedded within organizational structure and culture. Team processes are increasingly recognized as having taskwork and teamwork dimensions, with taskwork being represented as creative behavior, decision-making, and boundary spanning; and teamwork being represented by transition, action, and interpersonal processes. The subject of team processes has been represented in nearly all general reviews of small groups and teams, in many primary studies that examine both general and specific team processes, and in several meta-analyses. The fundamental conclusion of this body of research is that teams can learn how to have more effective processes, and teams with more effective processes exhibit higher performance.
The majority of team processes overviews are contained within general reviews of the groups and teams literature. In Kozlowski and Bell 2003, in the section devoted to team processes, the authors lament that the construct is so broadly defined as to be ill-defined and observe there is little convergence on a core set of processes. They offer a categorization of cognitive, affective/motivational, and behavioral constructs that occupy the mediational space between inputs and outcomes. Ilgen, et al. 2005 later argues that the input-process-outcome (IPO) model would be better labeled as an input-mediator-output-input (IMOI) noting that “mediator” reflects a broader range of intervening variables than processes, and that outputs often become the inputs for the next stage in a cycle of causal feedback. Matching the earlier distinction of Marks, et al. 2001 (cited under Teamwork Processes), Kozlowski and Ilgen 2006 conceptually distinguishes team processes (i.e., how team members combine their individual resources, knowledge, and skill to resolve task demands) from emergent states (i.e., regularized, shared, structures that crystallize and serve to guide subsequent process interactions). Rousseau, et al. 2006 adds its own integrative review of frameworks of teamwork behaviors, dividing behaviors between task-related and socio-emotional categories. Mathieu, et al. 2008 makes particular note of the specific studies that have been conducted on the Marks, et al. 2001 teamwork process dimensions. Kozlowski 2015 argues that it is time to advance understanding of dynamic process mechanisms, arguing that doing so will require more theoretical consideration to the process of emergence and change in the emerged phenomenon. Mathieu, et al. 2017 reviews the evolution of team research over the past century with a particular focus on that which has appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology, and presents an overlapping domains framework to organize the research according to structural features, compositional features, and mediating mechanisms (among which are team processes), all embedded within organizational structure and culture. Mathieu, et al. 2018 provides an excellent overview of the origins of work team research including Elton Mayo (Harvard University), Kurt Lewin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology/University of Michigan), and Joseph McGrath (University of Illinois) schools of thought. Driskell, et al. 2018 concludes that the most cited and most accepted model of team processes was presented by Marks, et al. 2001, and provides an excellent catalogue of studies corresponding to transition, action, and interpersonal processes. Bell, et al. 2018 reviews what is known about how team composition shapes team processes and emergent states.
Bell, S. T., S. G. Brown, A. Colaneri, and N. Outland. “Team Composition and the ABCs of Teamwork.” American Psychologist 73.4 (2018): 349–362.
Review describes what is known about team composition and how it shapes the emergence of affective states, behavioral processes, and cognitive states (the ABCs of teamwork). Provides very helpful illustration of emergence processes ranging from the compositional to compilational, including model names, descriptions, and example operationalizations.
Driskell, J. E., E. Salas, and T. Driskell. “Foundations of Teamwork and Collaboration.” American Psychologist 73.4 (2018): 334–348.
Describes foundational research underlying current research on teamwork. Examines the evolution of team process models. Outlines primary teamwork dimensions suggesting that the most cited and most accepted model of team processes was presented by Marks, et al. 2001. Provides an excellent catalogue of studies corresponding to transition, action, and interpersonal processes. Discusses selection, training, and design approaches to enhancing teamwork.
Ilgen, D. R., J. R. Hollenbeck, M. Johnson, and D. Jundt. “Teams in Organizations: From Input-Process-Output Models to IMOI Models.” Annual Review of Psychology 56.1 (2005): 517–543.
Review that encourages moving beyond the classic input-process-outcome (I-P-O) model to an input-mediator-output-input (IMOI) model. Substituting “M” for “P” reflects the broader range of variables that are important meditational influences (such as emergent cognitive or affective states). Adding the extra “I” at the end explicitly invokes the notion of cyclical causal feedback. Elimination of the hyphen between letters merely signifies that the causal linkages may not be linear or additive, but rather nonlinear or conditional.
Kozlowski, S. W. J. “Advancing Research on Team Process Dynamics: Theoretical, Methodological, and Measurement Considerations.” Organizational Psychology Review 5.4 (2015): 270–299.
Laments the static treatment of inherently dynamic team processes. Speculates that the IPO model traps processes into a static mediating box and that multilevel theory allows the process of emergence to be assumed rather than examined directly. Argues more theoretical consideration must be given to the process of emergence and change in the emerged phenomenon. Necessary methodological innovations include assessing behavior in real time, reliably and unobtrusively, at higher sampling rates.
Kozlowski, S. W. J., and B. S. Bell. “Work Groups and Teams in Organizations.” In Handbook of Psychology: Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Vol. 12. Edited by W. C. Borman, D. R. Ilgen, and R. J. Klimoski, 333–375. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
A general overview of work groups and teams in organizations touching on their nature, composition, development, processes, leadership, motivation, effectiveness, and viability. Argues that team processes are broadly and ill-defined, but offers categorization of cognitive processes (including team-mental models, transactive memory, team learning), affective/motivational processes (including cohesion, collective mood/group emotion, collective efficacy, conflict and divisiveness), and behavioral processes (including coordination, cooperation, communication).
Kozlowski, S. W. J., and D. R. Ilgen. “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Work Groups and Teams.” Psychological Science (2006): 77–124.
Elucidates what more than fifty years of research on small groups and teams tells us about the processes that contribute to team effectiveness. Identifies leverage points that can be used to make teams more effective. Conceptually distinguishes team processes (i.e., how team members combine their individual resources, knowledge, and skill to resolve task demands) from emergent states (i.e., regularized, shared, structures that crystallize and serve to guide subsequent process interactions). Maintains cognitive, affective/motivational, and behavioral process dimensions.
Mathieu, J. E., J. R. Hollenbeck, D. van Knippenberg, and D. R. Ilgen. “A Century of Work Teams in the Journal of Applied Psychology.” Journal of Applied Psychology 102.3 (2017): 452–467.
Reviews the evolution of team research over the past century with a particular focus on that which has appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Notes the shift in focus from studies of individuals within teams to individuals versus teams to the team itself and to larger systems of teams. Presents an overlapping domains framework to organize the research according to structural features, compositional features, and mediating mechanisms (among which are team processes), all embedded within organizational structure and culture.
Mathieu, J., M. T. Maynard, T. Rapp, and L. Gilson. “Team Effectiveness 1997–2007: A Review of Recent Advancements and a Glimpse into the Future.” Journal of Management 34.3 (2008): 410–476.
Reviews representative team research in the decade since Cohen and Bailey’s review (Cohen and Bailey 1997, cited under Early Foundations) that has appeared in the context of the evolved input-mediator-outcome-input (IMOI) time-sensitive approach. Notes that transition processes have received limited attention. Action processes, such as coordination and communication, have received great attention and play a critical role in team performance. Interpersonal processes need to be studied in teams engaging in tasks of longer duration.
Mathieu, J. E., M. A. Wolfson, and S. Park. “The Evolution of Work Team Research Since Hawthorne.” American Psychologist 73.4 (2018): 308–321.
Provides an excellent overview of the origins of work team research including Elton Mayo (Harvard University), Kurt Lewin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology/University of Michigan), and Joseph McGrath (University of Illinois) schools of thought. Notes work team research has grown increasingly more rapidly in the fields of applied psychology and management relative to social psychology since 1990. Organizes this research according to the overlapping domains framework of Mathieu, et al. 2017 (cited under General Overviews) including structural features, compositional features, and mediating mechanisms.
Rousseau, V., C. Aube, and A. Savoie. “Teamwork Behaviors—A Review and an Integration of Frameworks.” Small Group Research 37.5 (2006): 540–570.
Reviews the frameworks of teamwork behaviors in the literature on work teams and provides a way of integrating these frameworks. Conceptual structure of teamwork is divided into behaviors associated with the regulation of team performance (i.e., preparation, work assessment, collaboration, adjustment) and the management of team maintenance (i.e., psychological support, conflict management).
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