The Mediating Effects of Team Efficacy on the Relationship between a Transactive Memory System and Team Performance

By Liu, Bangcheng; Zang, Zhi | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, August 2010 | Go to article overview

The Mediating Effects of Team Efficacy on the Relationship between a Transactive Memory System and Team Performance


Liu, Bangcheng, Zang, Zhi, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Although many researchers have shown that a transactive memory system (TMS) enhances a team's performance (e.g., Lewis, 2003, 2004; Liu, Lv, & Fan, 2010; Zhang, Hempel, Han, & Tjosvold, 2007), most have paid little attention to the relationship between TMS and team performance. In order to improve the effectiveness of a team, it is necessary to open the black box so that the mechanism by which TMS contributes to team performance can be understood.

Figure 1 depicts the framework of our longitudinal study of team efficacy, which involved 31 teams, and in which we tested the mediating effects of team efficacy between TMS and team performance.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Researchers have concluded that TMS contributes to a more effective team performance (Lewis, 2003, 2004; Liu et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 2007). If members of a team know each other, they are more sensible when doing assignments. It is easier to cooperate even when the assignments are not clearly defined (Moreland & Myaskovsky, 2000). Thus, we developed the following hypothesis: H1: TMS will have a positive effect on team performance.

Although a team operating with a TMS is more likely to perform well, this is not automatically the case, owing to each team member's individual cognition and psychology. The theory of team or group efficacy could shed some light on the team process (Guzzo, Yost, Campbell, & Shea, 1993). Team efficacy is a team's belief in its ability to perform effectively and has been found to be a determinant of the effectiveness of team performance (Gibson, 1999). Because team efficacy signals what a team thinks it can do, the level of that efficacy is often related to how much effort the team expends. A TMS allows team members to understand who possesses what specialized knowledge (specialization), to trust the reliability of that knowledge (credibility), and to organize this differentiated knowledge effectively (coordination) (Wegner, 1987; Zhang et al., 2007). Communication is a critical predictor of TMS (Lewis, 2004; Liu et al., in press). When members know and understand each other, they have more confidence in assignments. That is, team efficacy could be a critical channel between TMS and team performance. Therefore, we hypothesized:

H2: Team efficacy will significantly contribute to team performance.

H3: TMS will have positive effects on team efficacy.

H4: Team efficacy will mediate the relationship between TMS and team performance.

METHOD

SAMPLE

The study was conducted in eastern China with 149 university students who were taking a course in either knowledge management or organizational behavior. Students (52.5% male, 47.5% female; mean age 23.12 years, SD = 1.66) were registered for the courses in two semesters. The students were divided into 31 course teams of 3-7 members. In the third week of the course, each team was assigned one case out of a selection of nine, all of which focused on a specific issue related to the course, and at the end of the course, either in the 9th or the 12th week, each team was required to write a report on that case as part of the final grade to be assigned to each student for the course.

MEASURES

TMS was measured using Lewis' (2003) 15-item scale. Team efficacy was measured using Guzzo and colleagues' (1993) eight items. Team performance was measured with five items in a scale developed by Tjosvold, Law, and Sun (2006) with anchors for responses from 1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree. All measures were translated from English into Chinese and then back-translated to ensure the accuracy of the translation. All measures were operationalized at the team level by aggregating the items or dimensions to a single score (for all variables, the value of [r.sub.wg] between 0.57-0.83 was judged to be acceptable).

RESULTS

Descriptive statistics of key variables are summarized in Table 1.

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