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The Nature of Teams

An important distinction between individual selection and team selection lies in the need for the latter to determine how individuals with certain KSAOs will fit in a team. Therefore, prior to deriving the KSAOs needed for effective teamwork, a good understanding of the team, including team type, team tasks and team contextual factors, is in order.

Team type

Team type is a key element to understanding the determinants of team success. Whether it is a top management team (TMT) of a multinational company that operates on a longterm basis or a project team that convenes to tackle a single project for a short duration, the implications for selection can vary drastically.

Although there is no single, universally accepted taxonomy of teams, many researchers have attempted to categorize and summarize the types of team typically seen in research and practice (e.g., Cohen & Bailey, 1997; Devine, 2002; Hollenbeck, Beersma & Schouten, 2012; Klimoski & Jones, 1995; Sundstrom, McIntyre, Halfhill & Richards, 2000). A simple classification of teams was proposed by Devine (2002), which includes physical work teams (e.g., medical, military, production, service) and knowledge work teams (e.g., design, management, negotiation). Cohen and Bailey (1997) summarized four types: 1) work teams, 2) parallel teams, 3) project teams and 4) management teams. Using three dimensions underlying the type of teams (i.e., skill differentiation, authority differentiation, temporal stability), Hollenbeck and colleagues (2012) provided a comprehensive summary of 42 different team types identified in the organizational sciences. Based on team competence requirements, Cannon-Bowers and Bowers (2011) proposed four categorizations: 1) team-contingent, 2) task-contingent, 3) context-driven and 4) transportable.

Empirical evidence stemming from meta-analyses supports the importance of analysing team types. Bell, Villado, Lukasik, Belau and Briggs (2011) found that the relationship between functional background variety diversity and team performance was stronger for creativity and innovation teams and design/cross-functional teams than other types of teams (e.g., efficiency teams, TMT), indicating that the type of team (e.g., design or crossfunctional teams) might serve as a situational cue to heighten team members’ awareness of their functional backgrounds. Chiocchio and Essiembre (2009) argued that outcome performance is more salient in project teams compared to production or service teams, and that project teams rely more on a high level of team cohesion to plan, manage and complete projects interdependently compared to other types of teams. As expected, they found that team type significantly moderated the cohesion- performance relationship, such that cohesion contributed more to team performance in project teams when compared to production teams and service teams.

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