Title page for ETD etd-08272007-114555

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Adams, Shawnette K.
URN etd-08272007-114555
Title Disciplinarily Hetero- and Homogeneous Design Team Convergence: Communication Patterns and Perceptions of Teamwork
Degree Master of Science
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Smith-Jackson, Tonya L. Committee Chair
Borrego, Maura Jenkins Committee Co-Chair
Kleiner, Brian M. Committee Member
  • teamwork
  • agreement
  • effectiveness
  • teams
  • verbal and nonverbal communication
  • body language
  • disagreement
Date of Defense 2007-07-30
Availability unrestricted
In today's worlds of industry and academia, teamwork is becoming more and more prevalent and is becoming more and more desirable when addressing certain tasks. Intensified and growing competition in the global marketplace is forcing businesses to produce better products, thereby, requiring the input and expertise of various people with diverse backgrounds. Organizations have adopted a team approach in response to the technological advances that contribute to the complexity of many tasks in the workplace making it difficult for employees to work independently (Mathieu, Heffner, Goodwin, Salas, Cannon-Bowers, 2000).

The purpose of this research is to investigate the communication patterns of disciplinarily heterogeneous student design teams at the university level. A quasi-experimental design, specifically a non-equivalent control group design was used for this study. This study has two research questions: 1) what is the process that leads to convergence of a team-based mental model among disciplinarily heterogeneous team members? and 2) what are the factors associated with convergence that lead to effective disciplinarily heterogeneous teams? The results will allow the formation of guidelines that will assist such students in improving their effectiveness by allowing the convergence of the team members onto the same mental model(s). It must be noted that data collection for the experimental teams continued after the tragic events that occurred at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.

The results for this study were variable. Through examination of the fluctuation of the reliability scores across the three times it was administered, as well as the Pearson-Product Moment comparison, the Group Behavior Inventory is not the best instrument to use in an academic setting for student teams. The disciplinarily homogeneous teams disagreed more and the disciplinarily heterogeneous teams agreed more in terms of body language, while disciplinarily heterogeneous disagreed more through verbal utterances of sighs and pauses; however none of these differences were statistically significant. Certain agreement and disagreement indicators were significantly negatively correlated. Therefore, the corroboration of the Group Behavior Inventory constructs can only be applied to a specific disagreement indicator.

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