A Field Experiment on Leadership Functions and Team Performance in Non-Routine Analytical Team Tasks (with Florian Englmaier, Dominik Grothe, Stefan Grimm and David Schindler)

  • Date: Oct 31, 2018
  • Time: 17:00
  • Speaker: Simeon Schudy
  • LMU Munich
  • Location: MPI
  • Room: Ground Floor
Innovative working environments are frequently characterized by flat hierarchies in which project teams face non-routine, analytical team tasks. These tasks require team members to exert cognitive effort, stay motivated and work in a coordinated manner. Such teams may benefit from selecting a team leader who may make use of her personal abilities to motivate her followers (see, e.g. House, 1977, Bass, 1998, 1999 and Howell & Avolio, 1993) or coordinate her team members in the interest of the organization or group (see e.g. Bass, 1990 and House et al., 1999). While the literature on leadership has acknowledged the potential importance of endogenous choice of leaders, causal evidence on the effectiveness of such leadership in non-routine team tasks is scarce. We conduct a large scale field experiment with more than 250 teams in a unique environment that allows us to encourage randomly selected teams to choose a leader before teams start working on a non-routine task. Our two treatment groups are told to select a leader that fulfills a specific leadership functions whereas our Control group is not. In treatment Motivation we ask teams to jointly decide on a team member, who takes on "the role of a leader and motivates the team". In treatment Coordination we ask teams to jointly decide on a team member, who takes on "the role of a leader and coordinates the team". Using an objective measure of team performance (the time teams need to solve the non-routine task) we identify significant benefits from both leadership interventions. Additionally, we investigate to what extent the two leadership functions affect team organization and whether they also affect teams' willingness to explore original solutions.

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