Task Interdependence in Multiteam Systems: Synergy, Process Loss and the Moderating Impact of Communication and Team Member Diversity

Project: Research project

Project Details


Task Interdependence in Multiteam Systems: Synergy, Process Loss and the Moderating Impact of Communication and Team Member Diversity Task Interdependence in Multiteam Systems: Synergy, Process Loss and the Moderating Impact of Communication and Team Member Diversity Scope of Work As the pace, scope, and complexity of work in organizations increases, traditional teams are too small and insufficiently specialized to meet the multifaceted demands of Contemporary problems. This has resulted in an increased use of multiteam systems in business, government, medical, and military contexts. Scholars in the social and behavioral sciences have noticed the increased use of multiteam systems, and accordingly, research on this topic has expanded rapidly over the last 15 years. However, the growing research base on multiteam systems is imbalanced when it comes to theory building versus theory testing. Only a very small percentage of articles written on this topic describe empirical research that involves large multiteam systems (e.g., three or more teams and twelve or more members). This is problematic because the small amount of existing research conducted with multiteam systems makes it clear that size and specialization matter, and this precludes simple generalizations from teams to multiteam systems when it comes to theory and practice. The small amount of empirical work on this topic can be raced to the difficulties researchers working alone confront when it comes to recruiting a sufficient sample size of multiteam systems that are executing comparable tasks. Methodologically, we seek to create a multi-university virtual multiteam system infrastructure that would allow team researchers from across the country to conduct empirical research on multiteam systems. In this new paradigm, each research group provides one set of component teams that would work interdependently with other component teams provided by other research groups. Theoretically, we derive and test several propositions regarding the interaction of task interdependence, communication medium, and team member diversity in the context of multiteam systems. Research Purpose #1: Rectifying the Imbalanced Growth of Multiteam Research via the Creation of a National Infrastructure Research Purpose #2: Predicting Performance from Variability in Task Interdependence in Multiteam Systems-- Balancing Synergistic Gains and Process Losses Research Purpose #3: Examining the Moderating Role of Communication Medium and Team Member Diversity on the Relationship between Interdependence and Multiteam System Performance Research Timeline In terms of timing, the first semester (Semester 1) of the program of research will be devoted to editing the LDX software program with continued software support throughout the first year. LDX is a widely used platform at for studying multiteam systems (see Davison et al. 2012; Lanaj et al, 2018) and simulates a counter-terrorism mission similar to those encountered by the U.S. Army. This task presents each participant with close to 100 decision-making opportunities and captures the timing and accuracy of every decision at the individual-level, component team-level and multiteam system level. The passive collection of copious amounts of time-stamped objective data is central to the paradigm and increases the rigor of inferences. It also helps researchers gain a highly granulated understanding of team process, such as vertical coordination and horizontal coordination, as well as different aspects of team performance, such as promotion (gain-oriented) versus prevention (loss-oriented) aspects of performance. That is, the program breaks performance down to the synergistic gains and process losses that might be attributable to effective or ineffective team dynamics. This simulation has to be adapted for this research program for two reasons. First, although the simulation can currently run both pooled and comprehensive task interdependence structures, there are currently no versions of LDX that create sequential or reciprocal task interdependence. We need to adjust the program for this purpose. Second, we have to adjust the program so that we can run it virtually across multiple universities. Although we can currently run the program in a distributed manner on the Michigan State campus, firewall protection and other cross-university standardization needs have to be met prior to our running it nationwide. Overcoming these barriers is central to the process of building the national infrastructure of multiteam system research that embodies the first scientific objective of this research.We will dedicate Semester 1 of this research program to making these changes to the program and pilot testing the results. Semesters 2-5 will be dedicated to running each of the task interdependence conditions crossed with communication medium as depicted in Figure 6. One task interdependence condition will be tested each semester via a cohort design. That is, we will collect data for two of the cells in each of the four rows of the research design over the course of a single semester. Semester 6 will be devoted to two different goals. First, we will run additional teams in each of the four cells in order to a) insure that cell sizes are equal, and b) test for effects of timing, since in cohort designs, conditions are somewhat confounded with semester (thus, this 6th semester data can be used to rule out timing effects). Second, we will also dedicate the final semester to coordinate a conference for multiteam system researchers (we are not asking for funding of this conference in this proposal). Scholars who are active in this area would be invited to learn how to use the national infrastructure as part of their own research. We will leverage the lessons learned in the previous semesters across MSU, PSU and ASU to establish a functioning national infrastructure, and assist lone researchers or isolated research teams to connect to others in order to conduct large-scale collaborative empirical research on multiteam systems, as well as empirical research that complements case studies, qualitative studies or studies in need of replication. This infrastructure will be a legacy of the research program long after the three-year grant has expired. Each summer semester, when we have no access to research participants, will be devoted to analyzing data, preparing reports and manuscripts. Research Participants We will recruit research participants from research subject pools at MSU, PSU, and ASU that require three hours of research participation per semester. A single LDX session requires 3 hours, and therefore, meets the student's full requirement for research participation. Based on running 10 weeks per semester, 4 days per week, and 2 sessions per day, this would allow for up to 80 multiteam systems per semester or 400 multiteam systems across the entire three-year program. Each multiteam system will be composed of 3 component teams comprised of 4-5 team members. This sample size provides over .90 statistical power for detecting moderate effects (3% variance explained) at the.05 level of statistical significance for the three interactions described in the propositions (where k = 6). The large sample size will also support a large variety of post hoc analyses that leverage the value of this data beyond these specific propositions (Hollenbeck & Wright, 2017).
Effective start/end date9/30/219/29/24


  • DOD-ARMY: Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI): $481,114.00


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