Knowledge worker team effectiveness: The role of autonomy, interdependence, team development, and contextual support variables


This study investigated how autonomy, interdependence, and team development, along with process and contextual support variables, were related to the effectiveness of teams of "knowledge workers." The sample included 231 knowledge workers from 27 work teams. Team members completed surveys measuring the design, process, and contextual factors. Effectiveness measures included multiple key stake-holder evaluations of team performance and self-report measures of attitudinal outcomes. The results suggest that interactions among design, process, and contextual support factors have important implications for team effectiveness. In particular, the positive relationship between team autonomy and team job motivation was reduced as teams worked under more interdependent conditions. This interaction effect also varied across the types of autonomy (e.g., planning-related, product-related, and people-related) the team was given. Results also demonstrated that the relationship between job motivation and team process behaviors (helping, sharing, and innovating) was more positive in teams who were developmentally mature. Process behaviors were positively related to effectiveness, but those relationships became more positive in the presence of certain contextual factors (high-quality goals and efficient information transmission), and less positive in the presence of others (feedback and time pressure). Future research needs and practical implications of these results are discussed.

Publication Title

Personnel Psychology