Individualism–collectivism and team member performance: Another look

Authors

  • John A. Wagner III,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Management, Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A.
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  • Stephen E. Humphrey,

    1. Department of Management and Organization, Smeal College of Business, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Christopher J. Meyer,

    1. Department of Management & Entrepreneurship, Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, U.S.A.
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  • John R. Hollenbeck

    1. Department of Management, Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A.
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John A. Wagner III, Department of Management, Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824, U.S.A. E-mail: wagner@msu.edu

Summary

This study revisits the commonplace research conclusion that greater team member collectivism, as opposed to individualism, is associated with higher levels of individual-level performance in teams. Whereas this conclusion is based on the assumption that work in teams consists exclusively of tasks that are shared, typical teamwork also includes tasks that are individualized. Results of a laboratory study of 206 participants performing a mix of individualized and shared tasks in four-person teams indicate that heterogeneous combinations of individualism and collectivism are associated with higher levels of team member performance, measured as quantity of output, when loose structural interdependence enables individual differences in individualism–collectivism to exert meaningful effects. These results support the modified conclusion that a combination of individualism and collectivism is associated with higher levels of member performance in teams under typical work conditions; that is, conditions in which the tasks of individual members are both individualized and shared. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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