A model of contextual activities and team performance

Date of Completion

January 2004


Psychology, Industrial




The present study sought to refine the definition of Contextual Activities and empirically demonstrate the central importance of Contextual Activities to the effective functioning and performance of work teams. A review was conducted of, and summary cumulative model created from, the previous literature addressing team performance and Contextual Activities. Extending the conclusions from that literature, customers, managers, and team members were identified as the three constituencies of teamwork. ^ Next, a pilot study was conducted, using both focus group and multi-dimensional scaling techniques to determine a three-dimensional criterion map of those constituency's criteria for evaluating team performance. The information from the pilot study was used to revise the proposed model and served as the foundation for creating six different questionnaires to collect the data from the three teamwork constituencies. The data collected through those questionnaires from members, managers, and customers of thirty-one teams were analyzed to test a model of the antecedents and outcomes of contextual activities in work teams. ^ The model was partially supported with nine significant paths from among the total of thirty-one hypothesized. The model showed that the “Contextual Activities” construct mediates the relationship between the, input variables (i.e., Nature of the Team, Nature of the Tasks, and Leadership) and the Output variables representing “performance” (i.e., Contextual Activities—Extra Effort, Manager Evaluation—Outcomes, and Customer Satisfaction). More specifically, the model indicates that the influence of “Nature of the Team Members” on “Performance” is mediated by “Teamwork”, but in unexpected ways. For example, Team Member qualities such as Extraversion, which would typically be viewed as positive in an organizational and team setting, can ultimately have a deleterious effect on teamwork, and thus on performance. ^ Further, “Nature of the Tasks” was not mediated by “Leadership” as initially hypothesized, but rather directly influenced “Teamwork”—and subsequently “Performance.” That relationship supported the post hoc hypothesis that if the “Nature of the Tasks” is negative, such as being too difficult, then “Teamwork” will suffer. Also, “Leadership” influenced team “Performance” only indirectly, mediated by the “Teamwork” it promotes. Details, practical implications, and suggestions for future research are discussed. ^