Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Team Member Personality, Team Processes and Outcomes: Relationships within a Graduate Student Project Team Sample

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Team Member Personality, Team Processes and Outcomes: Relationships within a Graduate Student Project Team Sample

Article excerpt

Teams are being used more than ever in the workplace (e.g., Hackman, 2002). Perhaps in response to this phenomenon, courses taught in higher education, particularly in professional colleges and faculties, frequently have students work together in teams in completing part or all of the course work. The success of this technique, however, is mixed, with some studies showing that students like this form of learning and other students do not (Bacon, Stewart, & Sliver, 1999). There is little empirical research examining specifically what variables are important in producing a positive team experience for students in higher education settings. Thus, the rationale for this study was to identify what those variables might be and how they are linked together so as to inform higher education stakeholders about creating an effective team learning experience.

Within this broader framework, there were several specific purposes of this study. The first was to assess the relationships between basic personality traits and the more context-specific individual difference of a "team player" predisposition. The second purpose was to assess the degree to which team player predisposition and team leadership were related to team trust. The third purpose was to assess the relationship between team trust and team interdependence. Finally the relationships between team trust, team interdependence and team outcomes were assessed. In the next section of this paper, the rationales for the specific hypotheses related to the more general purposes are developed.

The Five Factor Model (extraversion, openness to experience, emotional stability (the opposite end of the neuroticism scale), agreeableness, and conscientiousness) is a commonly used approach when assessing personality in psychological research (Arthur, Woehr, & Graziano, 2001; Costa & McCrae, 1985, 1992; Hough & Oswald, 2000; Tett, Jackson, & Rothstein, 1991). McAdams and Pals (2006) argued that although the Five Factor Model's personality traits have been substantiated, a comprehensive framework for understanding behavior in specific situations has not been developed. They point out that while the Five Factor Model provides a "dispositional signature" (p. 207), more fine-grained individual differences they call "characteristic adaptations" (p. 208) are more useful for predicting behaviors in specific situations. In team contexts, the traits of Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience have been shown to predict team processes and/or outcomes (e.g., Barrick, Stewart, Neubert, & Mount, 1998; Barry & Stewart, 1997; Mohammed & Angell, 2003; Neuman, Wagner, & Christiansen, 1999). However, the relationships between core personality traits and the more context-specific predisposition to desire to work on teams have not been thoroughly investigated. Thus, the first set of hypotheses was based on the expected relationships between basic personality traits and being a team player.

Because team contexts provide individuals the opportunity to interact with others on a regular basis, those individuals high in extraversion (e.g., sociable, lively) should find the context more satisfactory. This was shown in a study of face-to-face and virtual teams (MacDonnell, O'Neill, Kline, & Hambley, 2009) and thus gives rise to the first hypothesis.

Hypothesis 1: Extraversion will be positively related to being a team player.

Team contexts provide individuals high in agreeableness (e.g., flexible, patient) the opportunity to demonstrate this characteristic in a social setting. Support for this contention was found by O'Neill and Kline (2008) in their study of college students who worked on teams completing a business simulation. This gives rise to the second hypothesis.

Hypothesis 2: Agreeableness will be positively related to being a team player.

English, Griffith, and Steelman (2004) found that Conscientiousness did play a role in the performance of cockpit crews. …

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