Why and when hierarchy impacts team effectiveness: A meta-analytic integration

Journal article


Greer, Lindred, de Jong, Bart, Schouten, Maartje and Dannals, Jennifer. (2018). Why and when hierarchy impacts team effectiveness: A meta-analytic integration. Journal of Applied Psychology. 103(6), pp. 591 - 613. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000291
AuthorsGreer, Lindred, de Jong, Bart, Schouten, Maartje and Dannals, Jennifer
Abstract

[Correction Notice: An Erratum for this article was reported in Vol 104(4) of Journal of Applied Psychology (see record 2019-16886-001: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2019-16886-001). In this erratum, the hierarchical form value for the study by Cantimur et al. (2015a) was incorrectly coded as representing ‘acyclicity’ rather than ‘steepness’. Updating the coding for this study means that there is just one acyclicity study in our dataset (Bunderson et al., 2016) rather than two, and resulted in some changes to the coefficients in our moderator model presented in Table 3. The corrected Table 3 is presented in the erratum. The only substantive change to our conclusions is that Hypothesis 4a, regarding the effects of membership instability, is no longer supported at p < .05. We also note a minor change to how Hypothesis 5b is tested—we can no longer test for the effects of acyclicity at the study level of analysis. However, we can still test this hypothesis using the ‘shifting unit of analysis’ approach. These analyses revealed that the population coefficient for acyclical hierarchies was unlikely to be different in magnitude from that of steep hierarchies or centralized hierarchies. Our original conclusion and interpretation—that Hypothesis 5b is not supported, but this interpretation is limited due to low sample size—remain intact. See erratum for full description.] Hierarchy has the potential to both benefit and harm team effectiveness. In this article, we meta-analytically investigate different explanations for why and when hierarchy helps or hurts team effectiveness, drawing on results from 54 prior studies (N = 13,914 teams). Our findings show that, on net, hierarchy negatively impacts team effectiveness (performance: ρ = −.08; viability: ρ = −.11), and that this effect is mediated by increased conflict-enabling states. Additionally, we show that the negative relationship between hierarchy and team performance is exacerbated by aspects of the team structure (i.e., membership instability, skill differentiation) and the hierarchy itself (i.e., mutability), which make hierarchical teams prone to conflict. The predictions regarding the positive effect of hierarchy on team performance as mediated by coordination-enabling processes, and the moderating roles of several aspects of team tasks (i.e., interdependence, complexity) and the hierarchy (i.e., form) were not supported, with the exception that task ambiguity enhanced the positive effects of hierarchy. Given that our findings largely support dysfunctional views on hierarchy, future research is needed to understand when and why hierarchy may be more likely to live up to its purported functional benefits.

Keywordshierarchy; teams; power; status; conflict
Year2018
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Journal citation103 (6), pp. 591 - 613
PublisherAPA
ISSN0021-9010
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000291
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85040915137
Page range591 - 613
Research GroupPeter Faber Business School
Publisher's version
File Access Level
Controlled
Place of publicationUnited States of America
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