Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

Improving Teamwork

Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

Improving Teamwork

Article excerpt

NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT

To develop proposals for effective environmental policy, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) runs scenarios past lawyers, economists, scientists, and policy wonks, often multiple times. Each specialist's input informs the next, until the team comes up with an idea that seems both economically feasible and environmentally acceptable. "No one person could do that," says Lisa Moore, scientist at EDF, and that's why she likes her job: "I just want to be part of a good team" But Moore can be reluctant to reh/ on people, a mistrust she says is "kind of a strange characteristic to have as a through-and-through team player."

New research suggests that this mistrust is not strange at all. In fact, it can boost team performance, says Erich Dierdorff, an assistant professor in the department of management at DePaul University. Dierdorff wanted to see whether more oellectivist, group-oriented teams in fact do better work. His answer is a resounding yes.

Psychological collectivism has many facets, from how much people like or prioritize teamwork to how comfortable they are with relinquishing control. Dierdorff and colleagues showed that these facets have different effects on team performance at different times. As groups of three to six students in a capstone business course competed at running simulated companies, Dierdorff assessed each member's collectivist tendencies and compared them to the team's performance at the beginning and end of a several-week stint in the widget business. …

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