Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Preparing Students for Success in Team Work Environments: The Importance of Building Confidence

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Preparing Students for Success in Team Work Environments: The Importance of Building Confidence

Article excerpt

An important skill for employees today is the ability to work amid fast business growth while remaining satisfied with their jobs and performing to the best of their abilities. Teams are increasingly becoming integral parts of contemporary organizations (Stewart, 2000; Cornwall and Perlman, 1990), where teams are used in the quest to grow quickly and yet remain flexible (Metzmaekers, 2000). Therefore, teams have become a useful part of management education in allowing students valuable experience in team environments before they graduate and become involved in real-world team situations. By examining various individual behavior variables such as self-efficacy, individual satisfaction, and individual performance within teams, researchers! educators can study how to prepare students to be successful in a team environment.

Literature on effective team composition examined mainly demographic characteristics and their influences on team effectiveness (Gampion et al., 1993; Bantel and Jackson, 1989; Wanous and Youtz, 1986). While some suggested that diversity has a positive impact on team functioning (Timmennan, 2000; Campion et al., 1993), others suggested that homogeneity might lead to better performance (Jackson et al., 1991). Demographic variables that are commonly studied for their associations with team effectiveness are average age (Bantel and Jackson, 1989), level of education (Dollinger, 1984), gender (Shaw, 1981; Wood, 1987), race (Levine, 1987), and nationality (Salk, 2000; Smith et al., 1994). General findings in team research suggests that for solving complex, nonroutine problems, teams are more effective when they are composed of people with a variety of skills, knowledge, ability, and perspectives (Gladstein, 1984; Hackman, 1987; Pearce and Ravlin, 1987; Wanous and Youtz, 1986). However, composition based on ability or confidence in the aspects specific to team environment has not been adequately studied.

Anyone who has taught a course with a major team project knows that student attitude toward teamwork varies considerably. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, in such a classroom, a large proportion of students are not confident with specific aspects of a team environment. This study proposes that studying individual behavior variables, such as self-efficacy and satisfaction, is important to find the right mix of people in a team. Specifically, to improve individual performance and satisfaction of students in team settings and their ability to work in teams, it is important to improve their self-efficacy of working in a team environment. In the current study, self-efficacy is investigated as it affects individual satisfaction and individual performance in team settings of upper-level management courses.

To do this, relevant literature is reviewed and a model displaying relationships among self-efficacy, team performance, individual satisfaction and performance is developed. Based on this model, hypotheses are developed. Next, an explanation of methodology and results of the analysis is presented. Finally, a discussion of the findings and their implications is provided.

THE CONCEPT OF SELF-EFFICACY

Self-efficacy is a central component in Bandura's (1986) Social Cognitive Theory, in which cognitive variables are suggested to have the capability to generate outcomes, given the processing of external inputs. Researchers have focused on improving self-efficacy in order to improve both individual and organizational performance (Gist and Mitchell, 1992). Little research has been conducted concerning the development of self-regulatory processes such as self-efficacy perceptions (Thomas and Mathieu, 1994), suggesting the need for research like the current study.

Self-efficacy, one of the constructs of Bandura's (1982) Social Cognitive Theory "refers to beliefs in one's capabilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to meet given situational demands" (Wood and Bandura, 1989:408). …

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