Structural interdependence in teams: An integrative framework and meta-analysis

March 2015 | Courtright, Stephen

Although interdependence is a central aspect of team design, there has been a lack of clarity regarding the meaning and impact of different forms of interdependence. To provide theoretical clarity and to advance research on team interdependence, we develop an organizing, conceptual framework of interdependence in teams and test it using meta-analysis. We first review and tie together different conceptualizations of interdependence in the literature and illustrate how they converge around two major constructs: task interdependence and outcome interdependence. After providing integrative definitions of these forms of interdependence, as well as sub-dimensions, we then explore the relative effects of task and outcome interdependence on team functioning and performance. Specifically, we propose a pattern of differential effects in which task interdependence is primarily associated with team performance through its effects on task-focused team functioning (i.e., transition/action processes, collective efficacy), whereas outcome interdependence is primarily associated with team performance through its effects on relational team functioning (i.e., interpersonal processes, cohesion). We test these differential effects using a meta-analytic database of 107 independent samples and 7,563 teams. The meta-analytic path model provides strong support for our hypotheses. Implications and future directions for the study of interdependence in work teams are discussed.

Author

Co-author(s)

  • Gary R. Thurgood
  • Greg L. Stewart
  • Abigail J. Pierotti

Publication(s)

Journal of Applied Psychology