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Real teams or pseudo teams? The changing landscape needs a better map

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2012
JournalIndustrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice
Journal number1
Volume5
Number of pages4
Pages25-28
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

At the outset, Tannenbaum et al. provide two well-cited definitions of “team” from the literature and conclude that most teams in research studies share a few key characteristics in common. However, a number of other equally valid and well-recognized definitions exist (e.g., Cohen & Bailey, 1997; Devine, Clayton, Phillips, Dunford, & Melner, 1999; Hackman, 2002; Salas, Stagl, Burke, & Goodwin, 2007; West, 2012) and include subtle yet theoretically meaningful differences (e.g., in relation to boundedness of team membership). The problem of unclear or contested definitions raises crucial questions: What characteristics distinguish an authentic or real organizational team from a loose group of individuals perhaps co-acting in close physical or virtual proximity? Which individuals constitute team members and which individuals are simply other organizational members who interact more or less closely with the team? How can we ensure that there is conceptual precision when accumulating and synthesizing research findings across studies on teams in organizations? Without greater precision about what characterizes a team, we cannot identify the types of collectives that warrant inclusion in our studies.