Author: Yue, Chen
Title: Helping teams to adapt : an investigation of the intentional team adaptation process
Advisors: Fong, S. W. Patrick (BRE)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2020
Subject: Organizational change
Teams in the workplace
Adaptability (Psychology)
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Building and Real Estate
Pages: xv, 210 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Organisations are embedded in an environment characterised by fierce competition and constant change. In order to gain a competitive advantage, they have to be flexible and adaptive to such changes. Therefore, teams are widely used as the basic work unit in modern organisations to accomplish tasks. Accordingly, team adaptation to a dynamic environment has become one of the most important topics in businesses and management. This issue is usually addressed in this question: 'What can team members do to maintain team performance in a dynamic environment'? This means that most of the existing studies on team adaptation did not discuss 'team adaptation' and instead focused on 'individual adaptation'. This research aims to redirect this focus back to the team itself. Specifically, it discusses how teams respond to changes so that their performance is in line with necessary environmental changes. Therefore, this research builds on the theory of collective intentionality and proposes an intentional team adaptation model. It employs four studies to argue and examine the above ideas. The first study discusses the characteristics and observable instances of intentional team adaptation through a grounded theory approach. The second study develops a scale of intentional team adaptation that enables further empirical analysis. The third study examines the shared cognitive mechanism of intentional team adaptation, and the forth study explores the distributed cognitive mechanism of intentional team adaptation. The idea of intentional team adaptation is clarified and demystified through a literature analysis. The analysis begins with studies on collective intentionality. It is believed that collectives such as organisations and teams are constructed social realities with intentions rather than merely workplaces where individual members do their jobs. Team behaviour is not only a collection of individual members' behaviours that individuals' minds determine; it can also be ascribed to a team's intentionality. Accordingly, this study proposes the construct of team intentionality as the foundation for interpreting team adaptive behaviours and terms this type of adaptation as 'intentional team adaptation'. A comparison between intentional team adaptation and reactive team adaptation is also included in the literature analysis. A further study that employs a grounded theory-driven analysis explores the phenomenon of intentional team adaptation in workplaces. A three-dimension model of intentional team adaptation emerged from the data of ten software development teams. Behaviourally, intentional teams carry out joint action and complete team tasks with proper coordination. Affectively, intentional teams have a positive daily tone, team climate and work relationship among team members. Cognitively, intentional teams can take advantage of team knowledge and expertise to fulfil team targets amidst uncertainties. A measurement of intentional team adaptation with high validity and credibility was developed based on the findings from this grounded study. This research also examines the underlying mechanisms of intentional team adaptation in order to gain a comprehensive understanding. A shared cognitive mechanism (i.e. shared mental model) is discussed and analysed through a two-phase experiment study with changed tasks. A manipulation of reward structures (cooperative vs. competitive) was employed to trigger intentional team adaptive behaviours and individual members' self-serving behaviours separately. The results show that shared mental model updating was the mediator of the reward structure and team adaptive strategies. A field study was also conducted to test the distributed cognitive mechanism (i.e. transactive memory system). Production teams with experience in equipment replacement were selected as the target sample. This study demonstrates the mediation effect of a transactive memory system on the relationship between intentional team adaptation and a team's adaptive performance. In addition, the relationship was found to be more significant for highly interdependent tasks. This research cover both theoretical analyses and empirical examinations with both qualitative and quantitative methods and examine the mechanisms of intentional team adaptation with multiple samples. In terms of theoretical contributions, this research establishes a theory of intentional team adaptation, thus enriching the research on team dynamics, especially on research problems related to team adaptation. Additionally, a grounded theory approach was employed to understand the intentional teams' affective, behavioural and cognitive manifestations. A research tool for the specific theme, i.e. intentional team adaptation, was also developed in this study, from which future empirical studies can benefit. Furthermore, this research explores the underlying cognitive mechanisms on team adaptation and discusses different situations that involve a variety of tasks to build an integrated research model of intentional team adaptation. In terms of practical implications, this research offers suggestions for teams, managers, senior management or trainers on training content, knowledge integration approaches and task-based resource allocations for addressing uncertainties.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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