Team tasks and team task analysis

Multiple perspectives have been taken to describe team task demands, and many of them place interdependence at the core of understanding the nature of team tasks. On this notion, Cannon-Bowers and Bowers (2011) proposed four categories of team tasks based on interdependence: 1) pooled interdependence (group output is the sum of individual output; e.g., sales teams), 2) sequential interdependence (group output is a sequence of individual output; e.g., assembly lines), 3) reciprocal interdependence (group output is an interaction between two team members; e.g., command-and-control teams) and 4) team interdependence (group output is an interaction among all team members; e.g., selfmanaged work teams). The importance of task interdependence is highlighted in a metaanalysis by Gully, Devine and Whitney (2002), who found that task interdependence moderated the cohesion-performance relationship such that the relationship was stronger when task interdependence was high.

The goal of a team task analysis (TTA) is to identify KSAOs that can optimize the completion of team tasks. While job analysis conducted for team assessment and selection may in many ways resemble its counterpart for individual-based selection, team-based job analysis requires consideration of a variety of factors that contribute to both effective task performance and effective teamwork. Similar to individual-based selection, team task analysis is crucial to the success of team selection, yet research pertaining to TTA has only recently emerged (see Arthur, Villado & Bennett, 2012; Cannon-Bowers & Bowers, 2011; Mohammed, Cannon-Bowers & Foo, 2010). Most research on team job analysis has either been part of a larger study on team selection or an application of TTA in specific team interventions (Zaccaro & DiRosa, 2012). Due to the lack of research dedicated to validating TTA techniques, typical TTA has employed methods from individual-based task analysis, which often ignores the important contextual factors and multilevel principles entailed in a TTA (Mohammed et al., 2010).

As jobs performed in a team do not necessarily require team interdependence, team- based job analysis should employ specific strategies to uncover and differentiate individual- and team-based tasks via the level of coordination and interdependence (i.e., the extent to which successful performance of the job relies on team members working together). Research has shown that team relatedness and team workflow can be used as effective metrics for interdependence (Arthur, Edwards, Bell, Villado & Bennett, 2005; see also Arthur et al., 2012).

Pertaining to the procedures of TTA, Burke (2004) proposed seven steps: 1) conducting a requirements analysis, 2) identifying the job tasks, 3) identifying a taxonomy of teamwork, 4) conducting a coordination analysis, 5) determining relevant task work and teamwork tasks, 6) deriving KSAs from tasks and 7) linking KSAs to team tasks. Emphasizing the role of team interdependence (i.e., team-relatedness and team workflow), Arthur and colleagues (2012) proposed a model for identifying team-based tasks in a sequence of three steps: 1) generating a comprehensive list of tasks that constitute a job, 2) identifying job tasks that are team-based and 3) employing a detailed task analysis for tasks identified in the second step. Taking a contingency and multilevel perspective of TTA, Mohammed and colleagues (2010) proposed a conceptual framework for team selection, where a team’s task demands (e.g., interdependence, coordination demands, behavioural discretion, role specialization, structure and level of autonomy) should be thoroughly examined before individual- and team-level KSAOs are derived. Some research has also been done to explore TTA techniques for tasks in particular types of teams (e.g., crime scene investigation teams, Smith, Baber, Hunter & Butler, 2008; military teams, van Berlo, Lowyck & Schaafstal, 2007; close air support teams, Zobarich, Lamoureux & Martin, 2007).

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