The Dynamics of Emergence: Cognition and Cohesion in Work Teams


Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA. E-mail:


Emergence as a multilevel process has received limited research attention in the micro–meso disciplines of organizational science. Our intent is to explain the conceptual underpinnings of emergence and to advance a more dynamic, process-oriented conceptualization. We discuss emergence as a bottom-up, multilevel process and focus attention on three neglected issues: (a) emergence is dynamic, (b) manifests in different idealized forms, and (c) can vary in form over time. We consider two core phenomena in work teams—cognition and cohesion—to illustrate how this dynamic and multifaceted perspective on emergence can advance theory development and new research directions. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.