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The relationship between communication and team performance : testing moderators and identifying communication profiles in established work teams

Hassall, Stacey Lee (2009) The relationship between communication and team performance : testing moderators and identifying communication profiles in established work teams. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Communication is one team process factor that has received considerable research attention in the team literature. This literature provides equivocal evidence regarding the role of communication in team performance and yet, does not provide any evidence for when communication becomes important for team performance. This research program sought to address this evidence gap by a) testing task complexity and team member diversity (race diversity, gender diversity and work value diversity) as moderators of the team communication — performance relationship; and b) testing a team communication — performance model using established teams across two different task types. The functional perspective was used as the theoretical framework for operationalizing team communication activity. The research program utilised a quasi-experimental research design with participants from a large multi-national information technology company whose Head Office was based in Sydney, Australia. Participants voluntarily completed two team building exercises (a decision making and production task), and completed two online questionnaires. In total, data were collected from 1039 individuals who constituted 203 work teams. Analysis of the data revealed a small number of significant moderation effects, not all in the expected direction. However, an interesting and unexpected finding also emerged from Study One. Large and significant correlations between communication activity ratings were found across tasks, but not within tasks. This finding suggested that teams were displaying very similar profiles of communication on each task, despite the tasks having different communication requirements. Given this finding, Study Two sought to a) determine the relative importance of task versus team effects in explaining variance in team communication measures for established teams; b) determine if established teams had reliable and discernable team communication profiles and if so, c) investigate whether team communication profiles related to task performance. Multi-level modeling and repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed that task type did not have an effect on team communication ratings. However, teams accounted for 24% of the total variance in communication measures. Through cluster analysis, five reliable and distinct team communication profiles were identified. Consistent with the findings of the multi-level analysis and repeated measures ANOVA, teams’ profiles were virtually identical across the decision making and production tasks. A relationship between communication profile and performance was identified for the production task, although not for the decision making task. This research responds to calls in the literature for a better understanding of when communication becomes important for team performance. The moderators tested in this research were not found to have a substantive or reliable effect on the relationship between communication and performance. However, the consistency in team communication activity suggests that established teams can be characterized by their communication profiles and further, that these communication profiles may have implications for team performance. The findings of this research provide theoretical support for the functional perspective in terms of the communication – performance relationship and further support the team development literature as an explanation for the stability in team communication profiles. This research can also assist organizations to better understand the specific types of communication activity and profiles of communication that could offer teams a performance advantage.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 30311
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Kabanoff, Boris, Mason, Claire, & Unsworth, Kerrie
Keywords: communication, team performance, moderators, communication profiles, established work teams
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 09 Feb 2010 11:53
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:54

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