Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Transformational Leadership as a Moderator of the Relationship between Psychological Safety and Learning Behaviour in Work Teams in Ghana

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Transformational Leadership as a Moderator of the Relationship between Psychological Safety and Learning Behaviour in Work Teams in Ghana

Article excerpt

Introduction

There has been a significant increase in the use of teamwork in organisations over approximately the past three decades, as a means to simultaneously improve productivity and employee quality of work life (Bosch-Sijtsema, Fruchter, Vartiainen & Ruohomaki, 2011). A team, in a work organisational context, is a task-related group which comprises employees who work together to complete a particular task or project (Parker, 2003). Amongst the advantages that may be realised from teamwork are improved production quality, lower absenteeism, lower employee turnover, improved work attitudes and satisfaction of employee higher-order needs and development (Chalk, Donald & Young, 1997; West, 2004). According to Garland and Elton (1995), about 70% of employees prefer teamwork to working autonomously under a supervisor. Therefore, organisations are increasingly moving from traditionally, vertical and functionalised structures to team-based structures to contend with the growing complexity of the environment in which their employees operate (Edmondson & Nembhard, 2009; Parker, 2003; Salas, Burke & Sims, 2005). However, there are problems and challenges associated with teamwork in organisations which tend to affect its effectiveness. For example, the team leader's personality and leadership style are potential antecedents of team members' interpersonal communications and coordination and team justice climate, which might affect teamwork attitudes and performance (Mayer, Nishii, Schneider & Golds tein, 2007). Also, the personality of team members, social loafing and group think are likely to lead to conformity and isolation of members with conflicting views, which, in turn, are likely to inhibit team performance and effectiveness (Dwivedi, 2001). Furthermore, when team members are unable to freely express their views and ideas, then creativity, innovativeness and learning, which are essential for team performance and effectiveness, are likely to be stifled (Edmondson, 2002). The creation of an environment that is conducive to enabling team members to feel psychologically safe and express their ideas will not only depend on team interpersonal communication and coordination, but largely on the team leader's leadership style (Edmondson, 2002; Li & Cropanzano, 2009). These situations make team learning, team psychological safety and team leadership important variables that might influence teamwork effectiveness.

Current research on teamwork has focused on identifying and investigating potential factors and variables that can enhance team performance and effectiveness. These factors include team adaptation (Burke, Stagl, Salas & Pierce, 2006), team coordination (Shah & Breazeal, 2010), team learning (Edmondson, 1999; Edmondson, Böhmer & Pisano, 2001), team justice perception (Roberson, 2006), team psychological safety (Edmondson, 1999,2002), team leadership capacity and team leadership style (Day, Gronn & Salas, 2004; Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006; Levine & Moreland, 1990; Simpson & Wood, 1992; Somech, 2006; Steiner, 1986; Stewart, Fulmer & Barrick, 2005). The main obj ec tive of this s tudy is to unravel concep tual models and theoretical frameworks that have high predictive and explanatory ability of team variables that lead to team success (Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006; Rowald, 2011).

Studies suggest that team coordination, which includes effective communication of ideas amongst team members may enhance creativity, innovativeness, learning and effective team working (Dwivedi, 2001; Shah & Breazeal, 2010). Furthermore, highly effective teams adapt to new situations, such as stressful work overload, and implement new procedures by using effective coordination strategies, which, in turn, improve performance (Entin & Serfaty, 1999; Guastello, 2010; Wiedow & Konradt, 2010). Team justice, conceptualised as intra-unit or intragroup fairness which pertains to the manner in which teammates treat one another, is a useful predictor of teamwork attitudes and performance (Li & Cropanzano, 2009; Roberson, 2006). …

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