Extending organizational contingency theory to team performance: an information processing and knowledge flows perspective
Author(s)Leweling, Tara A.
Structural contingency theory; team performance; information processing theory; knowledge flows theory
information processing networks
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AbstractApproved for public release; distribution is unlimited
Contemporary organizational theory posits that teams undertaking complex tasks outperform when lateral, peer-to-peer relationships are emphasized over vertical, subordinate-to-supervisor relationships. Outlining my argument within a structural contingency framework, I suggest that the intersection of the information processing structures and the contigent influence of knowledge sharing is an underexplored avenue for explaining variance in individual and team performance. I use a laboratory setting to explore this theoretical intersection. I manipulate the knowledge sharing processes and information processing structures of four multi-person teams as they undertake a series of computer-mediated counterterrorism decisionmaking exercises with high task complexity and reciprocal interdependency. I analyze the experimental results to explore the relationships between individual team performance and 1) differentiated information processing structures, 2) ability to share knowledge, and 3) interactions between these two manipulations. Each team repeats a variant of the same counterterrorism decisionmaking exercise four times and two of the four teams switch configurations halfway through the experimental series, allowing me to explore individual and team performance 1) cross-sectionally, 2) over time (i.e. learning) and 3) across structural reconfigurations. By way of contribution, this work extends structural contingency theory to work groups through the lenses of information processing and knowledge sharing in order to examine their putative effects on individual and team performance cross-sectionally, longitudinally, and when subjected to structural change.