Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management

Committee Chair

Dawn R. Utley

Committee Member

Sherri Messimer

Committee Member

Sampson Gholston

Committee Member

Phillip Farrington

Committee Member

Julie Fortune

Subject(s)

Teams in the workplace., Intergroup relations., Group decision-making.

Abstract

Team-based structures are widely used in organizations on the premise that these groups bring valuable assets beyond that of the individual contributor. Globalization, competitive pressures and the complex nature of modern technological problems requires the input of multiple individuals from varying backgrounds. This is particularly true in science and engineering fields. However, true teams that can achieve the organizational advantages that are asserted by team advocates take time and resources to build; they do not occur by accident. The investment in building a team is worthwhile only when the team is able to achieve objectives and deliver value to the organization. Processes like intragroup conflict can enhance or curtail a team's ability to function effectively, both in term of performance and viability. However, intragroup conflict has not been widely studied in science and engineering fields. To bridge the gap in the body of knowledge a survey instrument was compiled to obtain conflict and effectiveness data from science and engineering team members. The distribution of the instrument yielded 562 usable responses. Several statistical tools were used to analyze the relationship between conflict and group performance and group viability, as well as the effect of moderator variables team training and team/working group behavior. Results supported a negative relationship between all three types of conflict and both facets of group effectiveness. A moderating relationship was not supported for the team training variable. However, whether the group was classified as a team-like or a working group-like did have a detectable effect on conflict and group outcomes. In practice, managers and team leads may assume that conflict is uni-dimensional and that all conflict affects groups in the same way. However, results from this dissertation show that conflict is multi-faceted and its relationship to group outcomes is complex and mediated by other variables. Through this enhanced understanding of the various types of conflict and in particular, the role of a team/working group classification, leaders of science and engineering teams can improve the effectiveness of the groups under their charge and bring additional value to their organizations.

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