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A Dynamic Ecology of Teams in an International Virtual Research Organization: What Makes Teams Productive?

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Ahmed I, Trudeau A, Simpson E, Lambert N, Poole M. A Dynamic Ecology of Teams in an International Virtual Research Organization: What Makes Teams Productive?. Oral presentation at 2017 SciTS Conference. Clearwater Beach, FL. Jun 13, 2017. International, Large-Scale Distributed Teams. Online at:

Traditional research on organizational teams primarily focuses on the interactions among team experience, task, and team-organization alignment (Tannenbaum, Mathieu, Salas, & Cohen, 2012) where membership, leadership, purposes, and boundaries are well defined and effectiveness criteria are somewhat clear (Wageman, Gardner, & Mortensen, 2012). However, the nature of teams, team environment, and collaboration has been rapidly changing and geographic dispersion and multiple team membership became significant factors in understanding teams and team effectiveness (Wageman, Gardner, & Mortensen, 2012; Tannenbaum, Mathieu, Salas, & Cohen, 2012). Considering knowledge-intensive work in multinational organizations, research shows that, “at the team level, performance is higher for teams whose members allocate a greater proportion of their time to the focal team, but surprisingly, performance is also higher for teams whose members allocate time to a greater number of other teams concurrently” (Cummings & Haas, 2012, p. 316). The scenario calls for innovative methodology to understand the effects of multiple team membership over time (O’Leary, Mortensen, & Woolley, 2011). A network based approach could significantly contribute to our understanding of teams in this changing environment. Although D’Innocenzo, Mathieu, and Kukenberger (2016) argue for the “relative value of employing social network theories and measures as compared to aggregate theories and measures of shared leadership” (p.1), there is a need to study dynamics and changes in networks and team structures over time to fully realize this value. This case study looks into project development, participants, and productivity of research and development teams in the Joint Lab for Extreme Scale Computing (JLESC), an International Virtual Research Organization that has generated seventy nine projects from 2010 to 2016 that includes 217 participants with 46 different institutional affiliations across four continents. We track the composition, project focus and productivity of the teams over time. Using content analysis, interviews, and network analysis, we generate data that enables us to test three hypotheses related to productivity in the teams: (1) Teams with members who are more central in the participation network are more productive; (2) Teams that persist over time are more productive; and (3) The more linkages a team has to other teams, the productive it is. The results have the potential to shed light on the paradox raised by the Cummings and Hass findings and also to illuminate the role of networks among teams on scientific and engineering productivity.



Type of Publication:

Oral presentation


scits 2017 conference, presentation, dynamic ecology of teams, productive

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Learn about the field of team science: history, theory and concepts
  • Establish or maintain effective team science endeavors
  • Enhance team performance, interactions, and attitudes

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Resource created by Jane Hwang on 10/5/2017 1:40:52 PM.

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