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      Enhancing the Effectiveness of Work Groups and Teams.

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          Teams of people working together for a common purpose have been a centerpiece of human social organization ever since our ancient ancestors first banded together to hunt game, raise families, and defend their communities. Human history is largely a story of people working together in groups to explore, achieve, and conquer. Yet, the modern concept of work in large organizations that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is largely a tale of work as a collection of individual jobs. A variety of global forces unfolding over the last two decades, however, has pushed organizations worldwide to restructure work around teams, to enable more rapid, flexible, and adaptive responses to the unexpected. This shift in the structure of work has made team effectiveness a salient organizational concern. Teams touch our lives everyday and their effectiveness is important to well-being across a wide range of societal functions. There is over 50 years of psychological research-literally thousands of studies-focused on understanding and influencing the processes that underlie team effectiveness. Our goal in this monograph is to sift through this voluminous literature to identify what we know, what we think we know, and what we need to know to improve the effectiveness of work groups and teams. We begin by defining team effectiveness and establishing the conceptual underpinnings of our approach to understanding it. We then turn to our review, which concentrates primarily on topics that have well-developed theoretical and empirical foundations, to ensure that our conclusions and recommendations are on firm footing. Our review begins by focusing on cognitive, motivational/affective, and behavioral team processes-processes that enable team members to combine their resources to resolve task demands and, in so doing, be effective. We then turn our attention to identifying interventions, or "levers," that can shape or align team processes and thereby provide tools and applications that can improve team effectiveness. Topic-specific conclusions and recommendations are given throughout the review. There is a solid foundation for concluding that there is an emerging science of team effectiveness and that findings from this research foundation provide several means to improve team effectiveness. In the concluding section, we summarize our primary findings to highlight specific research, application, and policy recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of work groups and teams.

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          Author and article information

          Psychol Sci Public Interest
          Psychological science in the public interest : a journal of the American Psychological Society
          Dec 2006
          : 7
          : 3
          [1 ] Michigan State University stevekoz@msu.edu.
          [2 ] Michigan State University.
          © 2006 Association for Psychological Science.


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