The March issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is now available and can be read online for free for the next 30 days. This issue offers a range of compelling articles on organizational studies as well as astute book reviews.
As work organizations become increasingly gender diverse, existing theoretical models have failed to explain why such diversity can have a negative impact on idea generation. Using evidence from two group experiments, this paper tests theory on the effects of imposing a political correctness (PC) norm, one that sets clear expectations for how men and women should interact, on reducing interaction uncertainty and boosting creativity in mixed-sex groups. Our research shows that men and women both experience uncertainty when asked to generate ideas as members of a mixed-sex work group: men because they may fear offending the women in the group and women because they may fear having their ideas devalued or rejected. Most group creativity research begins with the assumption that creativity is unleashed by removing normative constraints, but our results show that the PC norm promotes rather than suppresses the free expression of ideas by reducing the uncertainty experienced by both sexes in mixed-sex work groups and signaling that the group is predictable enough to risk sharing more—and more-novel—ideas. Our results demonstrate that the PC norm, which is often maligned as a threat to free speech, may play an important role in promoting gender parity at work by allowing demographically heterogeneous work groups to more freely exchange creative ideas.
Virtual teams are becoming more and more prevalent in the global business community. But they come with some unique challenges, for which business students often are not sufficiently prepared, experts say. To address this problem, an article in the latest issue of Small Group Research presents an experiential activity for undergrads in which students from around the world work together in a virtual team to bring these issues to light:
The goal of this VT [virtual team] experiential activity is to demonstrate to students how working in VTs can (a) be similar to working in FtF [face-to-face] teams, (b) have several advantages over FtF teams, and yet (c) present some unique challenges. Based on the results of student surveys completed prior to working on this activity, many of our students are uninformed about these issues given their lack of experience working in VTs. In fact, most students report that using technology to communicate is easy and that in the future, there will be little need for FtF communication. Students are also quick to point out that technology allows individuals to work on projects at times that are most convenient to their specific schedules and to seek assistance in real time rather than waiting for a predetermined meeting time. Students also report that they foresee few limitations to working in virtual teams. While for some students these sentiments remain true even after participating in the VT activity, for others their perceptions are changed significantly after having the opportunity to work with geographically dispersed team members.
Managers and scholars interested in teamwork and team building, work groups, meeting success, and related topics will benefit from valuable findings in the five articles most read in the past month on Small Group Research. These articles—some new, some classic—are freely available to access using the links below through the end of March. Please share and enjoy!
Editor’s note: When the article originally appeared in SGR‘s OnlineFirst collection, Professor Kauffeld kindly provided further background on the article, including the three most surprising things about the study’s findings. Read the Q&A here.
Are you tired of unproductive meetings? Here’s how to make the most of meeting time and boost your team’s productivity.
Using results obtained from real organizations, a study in Small Group Research (SGR) examined participants’ interactions and communication behaviors during meetings—some functional, some not—to find the formula for success.
This study follows the idea that the key to understanding team meeting effectiveness lies in uncovering the microlevel interaction processes throughout the meeting. Ninety-two regular team meetings were videotaped. Interaction data were coded and evaluated with the act4teams coding scheme and INTERACT software. Team and organizational success variables were gathered via questionnaires and telephone interviews. The results support the central function of interaction processes as posited in the traditional input-process-output model. Teams that showed more functional interaction, such as problem-solving interaction and action planning, were significantly more satisfied with their meetings. Better meetings were associated with higher team productivity. Moreover, constructive meeting interaction processes were related to organizational success 2.5 years after the meeting. Dysfunctional communication, such as criticizing others or complaining, showed significant negative relationships with these outcomes. These negative effects were even more pronounced than the positive effects of functional team meeting interaction. The results suggest that team meeting processes shape both team and organizational outcomes. The critical meeting behaviors identified here provide hints for group researchers and practitioners alike who aim to improve meeting success.