EAWOP Small Group Meeting

Bridging the Great Divide: Advancing the Science of Multiteam Systems Through International Collaboration

27th October – 29th October 2012, Varenna (Lake Como), Italy

Conference Overview
On October 27th-29th, 2012, Dr. DeChurch joined co-hosts Drs. Peter Essens and Ramón Rico along with conference co-organizers Dorothy Carter and Raquel Asencio in hosting a European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP) small group meeting on the topic of multiteam systems (MTSs) in Varenna, Italy. Rapid trends toward globalized, digitized work offers the promise of joining together individuals with varied background, competencies, and capabilities. These collectives have the potential to solve some of the great challenges of today. Not surprisingly, researchers in Work and Organizational Psychology have been building theory and research to understand these complex collectives, termed “multiteam systems” (MTSs).

The aim of the meeting was to foster relevant and novel investigation within the field of teams and MTSs, while supporting the development of global research ties.
In particular, the three key goals of the conference were as follows:

  1. Advance the state of the science of MTSs by introducing new perspectives and generating new hypotheses and research directions.
  2. Build international visibility for this topic as well as serve as a catalyst for the development of a community of practice composed of individuals interested in MTS research.
  3. Prepare conference participants for future collaborations with one another by facilitating development of specific “collaboration action plans.” These plans will include identification of relevant MTS research questions and potential sources of funding to support future research.

Over the course of the two and a half day conference, participants critically evaluated the current state of MTSs research, developed new research directions, and coordinated with one another to form international research teams.

Conference Participants
Under the auspices of EAWOP, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and INGRoup, this meeting was an excellent forum to spark collaborative MTS research. In total, 30 MTS researchers, representing seven nations and at least four disciplines (communication, management, I/O Psychology, Organizational Behavior) met and discussed today’s cutting-edge research in this area.

Raquel Asencio
Georgia Institute of Technology (US)

Daniel Ilgen
Michigan State University (US)

Dorothy Carter
Georgia Institute of Technology (US)

Chi-yu Kou
University College London (UK)

Barthelemy Chollet
Grenoble Ecole de Management (France)

Katharina Kugler
Ludwig-Maximilians University (Germany)

Noshir Contractor
Northwestern University (US)

Roger Leenders
Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Science (The Netherlands)

Robert Davison
Texas Tech University (US)

Jessica Mesmer-Magnus
University of North Carolina Wilmington (US)

Leslie DeChurch
Georgia Institute of Technology (US)

Giovanni Radaelli
Politecnico di Milano (Italy)

Thom de Vries
University of Groningen (The Netherlands)

Christian Resick
Drexel University (US)

Peter Essens
TNO Behavioral & Societal Science (The Netherlands)

Ramón Rico
Universidad Autonoma (Spain)

Jay Goodwin
US Army Research Institute (US)

Mark Robinson
University of Leeds (UK)

Gudela Grote
ETH Zürich (Switzerland)

Dino Ruta
SDA Bocconi School of Management (Italy)

Sarah Harvey
University College London (United Kingdom)

Rhetta Standifer
University of Wisconsin (US)

Verlin Hinsz
North Dakota State University (US)

Sjir Uitdewilligen
Maastricht University (The Netherlands)

John Hollenbeck
Michigan State University (US)

Susan Winter
National Science Foundation (US)

Helen Hughes
University of Leeds (UK)

Stephen Zaccaro
George Mason University (US)

Conference Highlights
Our four keynote speakers, Dan Ilgen, Noshir Contractor, Jay Goodwin, and Stephen Zaccaro, offered clear paths for the future of the field. Drs. Ilgen and Goodwin opened the conference with back-to-back talks on the future of MTS research. Dr. Ilgen advocated for MTS research that demonstrates the uniqueness of the MTS context—for example, research demonstrating that the “conditions defining MTSs account for significantly more variance in key criterion variables than the variables defining the next most predictable theory in use.” Dr. Goodwin discussed issues of complexity in MTSs, including how formal and informal structures interact to impact MTS performance.

Noshir Contractor and Steve Zaccaro provided intellectual “antipasti” before each of the dinners. Noshir Contractor discussed advanced network analytic strategies applied to MTS research. Combining network analytic techniques and a multi-theoretical perspective (e.g., theories of self-interest, theories of contagion, balance theories), he introduced an exciting new area for team and MTS research that pushes us to think about why and how people self-assemble into multiteam systems. Our closing keynote was delivered by Steve  Zaccaro during our final dinner. Dr. Zaccaro closed the conference advocating a stronger focus on the confluent and countervailing dynamics that can exist among intra-team and inter-term processes and emergent states in MTSs. Confluent dynamics occur when MTS-level processes and emergent states explain significant incremental variance in MTS performance beyond team-level processes and emergent states. Countervailing dynamics occur when component team processes are negatively related to processes and emergent states at the between-team and/or MTS-level. Focusing more research toward these types of dynamics could help address the need for more research clarifying the uniqueness of the MTS context.

The conference participants shared research findings representing their diverse disciplinary perspectives. For example, Leslie DeChurch discussed distributed leadership in MTSs, providing evidence that MTS leadership requires that enacted leader functions shift over time in tandem with task phases. Thom de Vries discussed how functional diversity can have both positive and negative effects on MTS performance by increasing horizontal coordination but decreasing aspirational behavior. Robert Davison and John Hollenbeck discussed findings from a laboratory study focused on the influence of context on goal commitment across three levels of the system (i.e., individual role, component team, system). Moreover, multiteam systems research is an area that is both interdisciplinary and international. The MTS small group meeting provided a rare opportunity for 30 MTS researchers from seven countries to meet and discuss potential collaborations. Thus, it was a great start in building the teams needed for future MTS research.


Organizing Committee
Leslie DeChurch, PhD (lesliedechurch@gmail.com)
Georgia Institute of Technology, 654 Cherry Street, Atlanta, Georgia, US

Peter Essens, PhD (peter.essens@tno.nl)
The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), NL

Ramon Rico, PhD (ramon.rico@uam.es
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28413 Madrid, Spain

Dorothy Carter (dorothyrpc@gmail.com)
Georgia Institute of Technology, 654 Cherry Street, Atlanta, GA, US

Raquel Asencio (rasenciohodge@gmail.com)
Georgia Institute of Tecnology, 654 Cherry Street, Atlanta, GA, US