Research

Understanding the role of worker interdependence in team selection

Authors

Published

Organization Science, 3 ed., vol. 22, pp. 772-787, May 2011

Abstract

In this paper, we evaluate the effectiveness of policies for assigning interdependent workers to teams. Using a computational simulation, we contrast distributing workers equitably across teams based on prior individual performance with policies that distribute based on how well people work together. First, we test a policy that clusters workers into teams by finding natural breakpoints among them where their mutual support is weak. Then we test two other policies that protect the strongest interdependent core of high performers, but differ in that one policy separates workers who give little support to interdependent partners while the other separates workers who receive little support from their partners. All three policies outperform the equitable-distribution approach in some circumstances. We make recommendations to managers for harnessing interdependence when forming teams, whether the managers are familiar or unfamiliar with how well their people work together.

Corinne Coen

Daniel Solow