Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD

Program

School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Maritza Salazar Campo

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jason Siegel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Michelle Bligh

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Theresa Lant

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© Copyright Daniel J. Slyngstad, 2019

Abstract

Innovation in academia and industry is increasingly achieved via complex problem solving in teams making use of knowledge from multiple areas of expertise. These expertise-diverse teams have proliferated in response to the demands of contemporary knowledge work, and members often possess intellectually distant skillsets that impose novel constraints on the means by which they must collaborate—in particular, they must rely more on distributed taskwork. Yet, research continues to place emphasis on the goal of enabling teams to achieve innovation by increasing knowledge shared in common, overcoming obstacles to cognitive parity, or via sustained periods of problem solving by the team as a whole. Instead, this study shows—and supports using a field experiment—that expertise-diverse teams heavily emphasize skillset complementarity and dyadlevel expertise exchange, allowing team-level innovation to emerge from smaller interactions in which concrete, actionable expertise is transferred directly between members. As such, members from partly incommensurate expertise domains can still contribute to one another’s work, raising the chance of breakthrough innovation across domains at the team level. Teams were randomly assigned to one of two training interventions emphasizing either dyadic or entirely group-level interaction. Results revealed that dyadic interaction was more strongly related to innovativeness and integrative complexity of team knowledge products. Measured expertise exchange in dyads also predicted team outcomes, a finding mediated by transactive memory—teams with more differentiated transactive memory systems were more effective. This study resolves incoherence about the impact of expertise diversity on teamwork, how to operationalize team cognition, and the contributions of structural features (e.g., interdependence) to team cognition and innovation.

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