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2009McDowell

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1 Journal of Organizational Leadership & Business Summer 2009 Mediating Effects of Potency on Team Cohesiveness and Team Innovation By William C. McDowell Assistant Professor Department of Management College of Business East Carolina University Lixuan Zhang Hull College of Business Augusta State University Abstract: The purpose of this study is to develop a greater understanding of the role of team cohesiveness on one aspect of team performance, team innovativeness. Team innovativeness continues to be an area of increasing interest, but there is still much researchers do not yet understand. While the relationship between cohesiveness and performance has found mixed results in the past, this study, conducted with 212 university seniors comprising 36 groups, finds that this relationship is mediated by team potency which may explain some of the mixed results. Study limitations and future research ideas are also presented. 2 Journal of Organizational Leadership & Business Summer 2009 INTRODUCTION Teams are a vital part of many organizations in today’s marketplace. As the effectiveness of teams in the workplace continues to be confirmed both in research and in actual organizations, team research increases. The reason for this rigorous examination is the critical role that teams play in organizational effectiveness (Tesluk & Mathieu, 1999). Teams are continuing to increase production, efficiency, and output through better products, processes, and organization, and this production and efficiency can be seen through team innovativeness, a product of the team interaction. One key construct which has been shown to play a strong role within teams is cohesiveness. This construct has received a considerable amount of attention with varying results. Therefore, cohesiveness is examined in even greater detail in this research. While the word “team” continues to be used interchangeably with the term “group”, we can define a team as a separate entity within a larger organization which performs a task that affects others (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996). This study focuses on the innovativeness of teams (Calatone, Cavusgil, & Zhao, 2002; Sethi, Smith, & Park, 2001; Lokshin, Gils, & Bauer, 2009) which is just one aspect of team performance (Tierney & Farmer, 2002; Bunderson & Sutcliffe, 2002) and the role cohesiveness plays in that innovativenes s in light of team potency. LITERATURE REVIEW As indicated by Leavitt and Walton (1975) innovativeness is a psychological trait that adopts new ideas or technologies. This view of innovativeness as a trait can encompass the adoption of products or processes from other sources (Roehrich, 2002). While innovation is highly connected to creativity, the purpose of this study will be to look at the broader scope of innovation which implies the implementation of creative ideas and thought processes within the team (Woodman, Sawyer, & Griffin, 1993). Calatone, Cavusgil, and Zhao (2002) reinforce this idea with the understanding that innovation and organizational learning are closely related. Thus, the organization tends to evolve into a more innovative organization as better ideas and processes are either developed or adopted. The study of determining factors of overall team innovativeness can certainly benefit the understanding of teams in the context of organizations. The various dynamics of team interaction, such as the cultural composition (Hopkins & Hopkins, 2002; Balkundi et al., 2007) the existence of creativity (Kurtzberg & Amabile, 2001), trust (Leung, 2008) and shared leadership (Carson, Tesluk & Marrone, 2007) are just some of the current variables being examined in regards to teams. In addition, however, the examination of these factors in light of the current literature concerning team cohesiveness and the 3 Journal of Organizational Leadership & Business Summer 2009 effects that cohesiveness can have on team innovation will help to understand how these factors work in relation to one another. The current literature shows mixed findings concerning the role cohesiveness plays in team performance (e.g. Turner et al., 1984; Lokshin et al., 2009). However, by focusing solely on team innovativeness, this paper seeks to discover if a relationship does exist between cohesiveness and this aspect of performance. While some research would suggest that cohesiveness can eventually lead to a myopic view taken by the group through groupthink (Janis, 1972), it is still believed that the closeness brought about through cohesiveness can facilitate the members of team working together more freely with more communication to develop more innovative ideas. Therefore, the purpose of this study centers on studying the relationship between team innovativeness with respect to cohesiveness and potency. This adjustment, from focusing on team performance to team innovativeness in light of cohesiveness will hopefully develop a better understanding of what does indeed enhance the team innovative process. Determinants of Team Innovativeness There are many determinants of team performance (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996; Hsu et al., 2005). Some of these constructs include cohesiveness, heterogeneity, familiarity, motivation, goals, feedback and communication. Other variables such as individual creativity (Taggar, 2002), self‐efficacy, (Tierney & Farmer, 2002; Earley, 1994) potency, (Tesluk & Mathieu, 1999), team training (Rothrock et al., 2009) and member expertise (Bonner et al., 2002) are also aspects which determine team performance. The crossover from performance to innovation has relatively less research devoted to it, but as Sethi et al. (2001) indicate, many of the same constructs are related to both. Similarly, Woodman et al. (1993) also listed issues such as cohesiveness, longevity, and composition as antecedents of team creativity which is an aspect of team innovation. Team Innovativeness Studies have found several variables which relate to team innovation, but this study will focus primarily on cohesiveness and potency with team innovativeness. Amabile et al. (1996) indicate that team innovativeness can be defined as the successful implementation of innovative ideas. This is different than team creativity in that the innovativeness takes the


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