Mutual Accountability and Its Influence on Team Performance
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CitationRashid, Faaiza. 2015. Mutual Accountability and Its Influence on Team Performance. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractMany teams, especially in dynamic knowledge-intensive environments, face interdependent tasks with unscripted responsibilities. The centrality of this challenge to the team process notwithstanding, theories of how team members hold one another accountable for accomplishing interdependent work are underdeveloped. I integrate theory and research on accountability and teams to advance the construct of team mutual accountability – a reciprocally authorized behavior among team members of evaluating one another’s progress on the team’s task. Unlike performance pressure, which is externally enforced accountability on a team, mutual accountability is internal to a team. I theorize the effects of team mutual accountability and performance pressure on team performance and develop a model of team mutual accountability, proposing its antecedents and outcomes. I test this model in a multi-organization multi-method field study.
Findings from qualitative research on five teams in two knowledge-based organizations show that team mutual accountability varies across teams, verify that the theoretical construct of team mutual accountability can be operationalized in organizations, and help develop survey items for measuring team mutual accountability. Results of survey research on 45 teams in five knowledge-based organizations show that team mutual accountability is positively associated with team performance, controlling for performance pressure. Both team structures and shared beliefs facilitate team mutual accountability.
Overall, this dissertation illuminates the phenomenon of team mutual accountability and demonstrates its link to team performance. Teams with mutual accountability are likely to make timely performance adjustments because team members, by virtue of their intimate understanding of the team’s work and impromptu conversations, can actively evaluate team progress and adjust ongoing performance issues. As teamwork becomes more dynamic and interdependent in organizations, the “right” processes and task divisions become difficult to predict in advance. This renders external team accountability insufficient and mutual accountability among team members critical for timely performance adjustments. This research contributes to the literatures on teams and accountability and offers practical insights for enhancing team performance, especially in dynamic knowledge-intensive environments.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:14226095
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