Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales

Faut-il réfléchir pour être performant en groupe ? : les conditions de l’efficacité de la réflexivité = It is necessary to think to be a successful team ? : boundary conditions of the team reflexivity effects

Facchin, Stéphanie ; Tschan, Franziska (Dir.)

Thèse de doctorat : Université de Neuchâtel, 2008 ; Th. 2067.

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    In this dissertation I concentrate on some of the boundary conditions of reflexivity in teams. Research has shown that reflexivity (collectively reflecting on the teams’ objectives, strategies, and processes and adapting them accordingly) can enhance team performance and innovation. This effect, however, may have boundary conditions. Indeed, prior research has shown that the positive effects of reflexivity were often not straightforward, but depended on other variables. Given the many variables that moderate the relationship between reflexivity and team outcomes, it remains important to investigate under what conditions reflexivity really benefits teams. Therefore, I decided to study team reflexivity and take into account potential moderators, based on the assumption that reflexivity enhances performance and innovation if the reflection process is useful for the actual task or cooperation requirements. This dissertation is composed of a conceptual part (Chapter 1, 2, 3) and an empirical part (chapter 4, 5, 6) that present three papers each testing a specific aspect of the relationship between reflexivity and team performance and innovation. In all of the papers, the hypotheses were tested with field studies and the variables were evaluated with self-report questionnaires. A preliminary step in this dissertation was to validate the reflexivity scale for a French speaking sample. This first step enabled me to have an appropriate measure of reflexivity for the following next steps. The next steps represent the core project of this dissertation. The aim was first to test whether task reflexivity influences team performance and innovation more when teams need coordination because of task variety and when teams can implement the results of their reflection thanks to autonomy. And second, to test the relative importance of task reflexivity compared to transactive memory system, for team performance and innovation. In the first paper (chapter 4), two studies were conducted with 80 teams (320 participants) to validate the French version of reflexivity scale. In study 1, exploratory factor analysis revealed 3 factors which partially confirm the 2 factor structure expected from the original study (Carter & West, 1998). Two items of the original task reflexivity scale loaded on a third factor named ‘strategic reflexivity’. The three factor structure was replicated in study 2 with confirmatory factor analysis. Criterion validity is confirmed by correlations between reflexivity and team performance. Task, social and strategic reflexivity correlate with different aspects of team and individual performance. From these studies, it was concluded that the French version of the reflexivity scale is reliable and appropriate for evaluating team reflexivity. In the second paper (chapter 5), a study was conducted with 84 heterogeneous teams (334 participants) that performed a wide variety of tasks. First, I tested whether task reflexivity influences team performance more when teams need coordination because of task variety. Results indicated that task reflexivity improved team performance more when there was greater task variety. Second, I investigated whether the effects of task reflexivity on team innovation depend on the level of autonomy. Again, results showed that teams with greater autonomy benefited more from task reflexivity than teams with less autonomy. The results support my argument that task reflexivity benefits teams when teams perform non-routine tasks that may require more integration and coordination; and is most helpful when they are autonomous, and thus able to implement the results of their reflection. In the third paper (chapter 6), I surveyed 101 teams (420 participants) to test the relationships between explicit coordination (task reflexivity) and implicit coordination (transactive memory system). Results show that task reflexivity fostered team innovation and team performance. Transactive memory systems enhanced not only team performance but also innovation. As expected, task reflexivity and transactive memory did interact. Task reflexivity only enhanced team performance in teams with a less well developed transactive memory system (as evidenced by low level of specialization). Similar results were found for team innovation. Task reflexivity fostered team innovation in teams with a less well developed TMS (as evidenced by specialization and coordination) but high task reflexivity also impacted team innovation for teams with a good transactive memory system (as evidenced by high specialization and coordination). These results support the argument that task reflexivity is most helpful when a team has a poor transactive memory system that may require a reflection on who knows what. Second, the results supports the argument that task reflexivity also benefits team innovation when a team is highly specialized and coordinated and thus explicit reflection with specialized, diverse well coordinated team members, increases innovation. The primary contribution of this dissertation was to provide explanation for understanding the mixed results of task reflexivity on team performance. On one hand, this study highlights the importance of both task characteristics and enabling conditions of the effects of reflexivity on team performance and innovation; and on the other hand the importance of studying the relationship among explicit and implicit coordination mechanism on team outcomes. Future research should further address reflexivity and its boundary conditions.