Productivity in work teams: The effects of the type of team and interpersonal group cohesiveness

Date of Completion

January 1997


Psychology, Social|Psychology, Industrial




A proposed resolution to the historically equivocal relationship between interpersonal group cohesiveness and productivity was assessed by examining the moderating effects of the type of work team and the mediating influence of intra-team communication. To determine under what conditions variations in interpersonal cohesiveness would affect productivity, the level of interpersonal cohesiveness (i.e., low vs. high) and the type of team (i.e., co-acting vs. interacting) was manipulated. In addition, both the content and frequency of communication within the experimental production teams were recorded to permit an assessment of the mediating role of inter- member communication for the cohesiveness-productivity relationship. Finally, analysis of the content and frequency of communication at discrete time periods throughout the assigned work period allowed for an assessment of the mediating influence of communication at various times during a team's production period. The results revealed that high interpersonal cohesiveness facilitated productivity in interacting teams, but reduced productivity for co-acting teams. More acutely, path analyses revealed that, for interacting teams, interpersonal cohesiveness increased the early frequency of task-oriented communications which, in turn, increased productivity. In comparison, for co-acting teams, interpersonal cohesiveness increased socially-oriented communication during the middle stages of the production period, which resulted in a decrease in productivity. These results clearly demonstrated that interpersonal cohesiveness does influence productivity, but that the direction of this influence depends on the presence or absence of process interdependence represented by two different types of teams. The results also demonstrate the importance of both the amount and content of communication as a critical team process that exerts an influence on productivity. Finally, the conceptual and applied implications of the findings were explored. ^