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KSAOs for Team Effectiveness

Interdependence among team members makes it necessary to consider the composition of team KSAOs as a whole, with the assumption that members’ KSAOs may jointly influence team effectiveness. Therefore, the identification of KSAOs for team effectiveness warrants an examination of individual- (i.e., KSAOs at the individual level) and team-level KSAOs (i.e., team compositions of individual KSAOs), as well as the dynamic interplay between individual- and team-level KSAOs, and their joint influence on team effectiveness.

Individual-level KSAOs

The literature on individual-level KSAOs in team performance is extensive (see Table 15.1 for a summary of relevant individual-level and team-level KSAOs; Cannon-Bowers & Bowers, 2011; Mohammed et al., 2010). Researchers have exerted considerable effort into investigating moderators and mediators that further specify the boundaries, conditions and mechanisms underlying the effects of these KSAOs. Given that most of the studies revolve around the individual dispositional traits of team members, we group our discussion into dispositional traits and other individual attributes (skills, abilities, values and attitudes).

Dispositional traits Using the five-factor model (FFM) of personality (McCrae & Costa, 1985), researchers have continued linking personality to team effectiveness. In a sample of MBA student teams, conscientiousness and emotional stability predicted both individual work performance and team performance, and a composite of these two personality traits with leadership and interpersonal skills provided incremental validity above and beyond general mental ability (Zimmerman, Triana & Barrick, 2010). Jung, Lee and Karsten (2012) discovered that, although extraverted individuals outperformed introverts in idea generation (measured by the number of unique ideas and the number of diverse ideas) in computer-mediated groups (CMGs), this advantage was only evident when cognitive stimulation was at a moderate or high level, but not in low or extremely high levels. Jung and colleagues’ findings suggest that although extraverts might be more suited in teams with stimulating environments (e.g., CMGs), too little or too much cognitive stimulation might be ineffective or cognitively taxing. Focusing on voice behaviour (i.e., speaking up) in teams, Lee, Diefendorff, Kim and Bian (2014) found that agreeableness and extraversion positively related to supervisor-rated voice behaviours, and the linkage between agreeableness and voice behaviours was amplified by team participative climate.

Table 15.1 Individual- and team-level KSAOs for team assessment and selection.





Knowledge of teamwork skills Knowledge of team roles

Team shared knowledge of teamwork skills Team shared knowledge of team roles


Performance monitoring Interpersonal skills Team management/leadership Communication skills Cross-boundary skills

Team mutual performance monitoring Team interpersonal skills Team self-leadership Team quality of communication Team of cross-boundary skills



General mental ability Emotional intelligence Metacognition

Team adaptability

Team general mental ability (GMA) Team emotional intelligence profile Team metacognition


Conscientiousness Agreeableness Openness to experience Emotional stability Extraversion Positive affect Psychopathy Implicit aggression

Team conscientiousness Team agreeableness Team openness to experience Team emotional stability Team extraversion Team positive affect Team psychopathy Team implicit aggression

Values and Attitudes

Preference for teamwork Collectivism Uncertainty avoidance Power distance Masculinity Autonomy orientation Goal orientation Collectivism Self-efficacy Need for achievement Need for affiliation Need for power

Team shared preference for teamwork

Team collectivism

Team uncertainty avoidance

Team power distance

Team masculinity

Team autonomy orientation

Team goal orientation

Team collectivism

Team collective efficacy or team potency Team need for achievement Team need for affiliation Team need for power




Race/ethnicity Education Work experience Nationality

Age diversity Gender diversity Race/ethnicity diversity Education diversity Work experience diversity Nationality diversity

Besides the Big Five traits, proactive personality and its role in teams has received increasing attention in recent years. In addition to demonstrating a direct link between proactive personality and individual organizational citizenship behaviours (OCB), Li, Liang and Crant (2010) found that this relationship is mediated by a high-quality leader- member exchange (LMX) and strengthened by the work team’s procedural justice climate. In 95 research and development (R&D) teams across 33 Chinese companies, Chen, Farh, Campbell-Bush, Wu and Wu (2013) demonstrated that the effect of proactive personality on individual innovative performance in teams was mediated by individual motivational states

(i.e., role-breadth self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation). Findings from Li and colleagues and Chen and colleagues suggest that the effect of proactive personality on team performance was channelled through its positive impact on employees’ exchange relationships with their supervisors as well as on their motivational states.

Emerging research has focused on individual dispositions that capture how team members perceive and evaluate their abilities and self-worth, such as core self-evaluations (CSE; a higher-order trait underlying individuals’ fundamental, subconscious evaluations about themselves, which encompasses self-esteem, emotional stability, generalized selfefficacy and internal locus of control; Judge, Locke & Durham, 1997) and specific selfefficacy. Linking creative self-efficacy to individual creativity in teams, Richter, Hirst, van Knippenberg and Baer (2012) proposed that team informational resources serve as boundary conditions for the impact of CSE on individual creativity. As expected, they found a three-way interaction between creative self-efficacy and two types of team informational resources (shared ‘knowledge of who knows what’ (KWKW) and functional background diversity) in 34 R&D teams in four countries. In particular, the positive impact of creative self-efficacy on individual creativity was amplified in teams with higher levels of shared KWKW, and this interaction existed only in teams with high functional background diversity. Also interested in team innovation, Keller (2012) demonstrated that internal locus of control, self-esteem and innovative orientation each led to better job performance and innovativeness in project teams, and such effects were even stronger when the tasks at hand were non-routine, allowing more scope for individual characteristics to exert impact on performance and innovativeness.

Focusing on individual orientation, Hirst and colleagues (2011) argued that individuals with a high performance-avoid goal orientation will focus on performing the required tasks and avoid challenges that may give rise to creativity. Results supported their expectation and showed that performance-avoid goal orientation was negatively related to creativity. Liu, Zhang, Wang and Lee (2011) demonstrated that individuals with a high autonomy orientation tended to perceive a higher level of psychological empowerment, which subsequently led to lower voluntary turnover. While team leaders’ and peers’ autonomy support had an overall positive influence on members’ psychological empowerment, this positive link was even stronger when team members perceived a large differentiation (i.e., varying levels) in autonomy support from leaders or peers. The authors further demonstrated that psychological empowerment mediated the interactive effect of autonomy support (from team leaders and peers) and its differentiation on individual voluntary turnover.

Other attributes There are a few studies that examine individual knowledge, skills and abilities relating to team performance. Shi, Johnson, Liu and Wang (2013) found that individuals with higher political skill were viewed more positively (i.e., reward recommendation) by their supervisors in construction management teams, potentially because of better networking abilities and adaptability. To further explain the mechanism underlying this relationship, Shi and colleagues proposed and demonstrated that the positive link between political skill and supervisor evaluations was mediated by the frequency of interaction between team members and supervisors, and the positive effect of members’ political skill on interaction frequency with supervisors was further moderated by supervisors’ political behaviour. Based on trait activation theory (Tett & Burnett, 2003), Farh, Seo and Tesluk (2012) found that emotional intelligence (EI) was more positively related to teamwork effectiveness when the team had higher managerial work demands with more salient, emotion-based cues. In a simulation-based team training context, Ellington and Dierdorff (2014) applied a self-regulation theory framework (Kanfer & Kanfer, 1991) and demonstrated a positive relationship between metacognition (i.e., self-monitoring of learning) and a team member’s declarative and procedural knowledge of training content, which was fully mediated by self-efficacy and heightened by team context (i.e., team overall performance and quality of cooperation). Findings from Ellington and Dierdorff highlight the importance of viewing individual- and team-level learning processes interactively rather than independently.

Values refer to relatively enduring ‘beliefs about desirable behaviors that transcend specific situations, guide the evaluation of behavior, and are ordered in an individual in terms of relative importance’ (Bell, 2007, p. 597). In a sample of 135 class project teams, Arthaud- Day, Rode and Turnley (2012) demonstrated that individual values of benevolence (loyalty, honesty, helpfulness and responsibility), achievement (ambition, influence, capability and success), self-direction (creativity, independence and curiosity) and conformity (politeness, self-discipline and obedience) predicted OCBs. Given a heightened interest in cross-cultural and global issues in the workplace, more and more research has been done to examine cultural values and their impact on team effectiveness. Although not directly linking cultural values to team performance, in a 2010 meta-analysis, Taras and colleagues (2010) pointed out several important cultural value dimensions that can be crucial to team functioning and effectiveness. Using Hofstede’s cultural value dimensions (1980), Taras and colleagues found that individuals with high levels of uncertainty avoidance tended to harbour higher team commitment but also showed less innovation. In addition, team members holding different cultural values prefer different types of leadership style (see also House et al., 2004). Overall, cultural values have higher predictive validity for team-related attitudes compared to personality traits and demographics. In another study using MBA teams, Glew (2009) demonstrated that individuals who value sense of accomplishment received more negative evaluations from peers. This surprising result, as the author conjectured, was possibly due to peers’ perception that such individuals prioritize personal goals over group goals, something that may not be viewed positively by other team members.

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