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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Hospitality Management, Volume 33, June 2013, Pages 19–28
This study investigated the temporal priority of shared mental models (SMMs) on team learning behaviors using a longitudinal study design. Twenty-seven field-based teams (173 participants) performing a restaurant management task participated in the study. Panel data on SMMs and learning behaviors were collected in two waves across the 16-week lifespan of the teams. Results from cross-lagged models showed that team learning behaviors had a positive effect on the formation of shared mental models, whereas shared mental models did not predict team learning behaviors. Additionally, SMMs and team learning behavior had a significant positive effect on team performance. The results of the current study contributed to the team literature by showing that team processes (team learning behavior) may impact the development of SMMs, which consequently impacts team performance. The current work also demonstrates that teamwork is essential for success of hospitality organizations and suggests ways to improve team effectiveness. Implications of these results for research and practice are discussed.
The performance of customer-contact employees or service employees has long been recognized as a significant determinant of customer perceptions of service quality provided by service organizations (Bitner, 1990, Hartline and Jones, 1996 and Gould-Williams, 1999). Customers rely on employee competence, responsiveness, and interpersonal skills while assessing service quality. Good employee performance has been linked with increased customer perceptions of service quality, whereas poor employee performance has been linked with increased customer complaints and brand switching (Zeithaml et al., 1996). However, recently, service organizations which include hospitality organizations are focusing on organizational work teams to increase the effectiveness of service delivery, enhance service quality, and organizational competitiveness (Hu et al., 2009). Recent studies have assessed team/group effectiveness by measuring customer-perceived service quality and customer loyalty (De Jong et al., 2008 and Salanova et al., 2005). Researchers have highlighted several benefits of front-line service management teams including more efficient use of knowledge and experience of those employees who are closest to the customer, and increased learning, adaptability, and productivity (De Jong et al., 2008, Batt, 1999 and Cohen et al., 1997). Because of the increased adoption of teams in service operations there is a need to investigate factors that influence team effectiveness (De Jong et al., 2008). Service researchers have suggested that to enhance teamwork there is a need to encourage better communication and interactions among members (team processes) (Moultrie et al., 2007). Scholars have also linked knowledge sharing in teams with team performance in the hospitality industry (Magnini, 2008 and Hu et al., 2009). Given the importance of team processes in the success of hospitality teams, the current work examined team learning behavior as a team process variable that involves communication, interactions, and knowledge sharing in teams. Furthermore, hospitality researchers have also noted the value of shared understanding of rules, norms, expectations, roles, values, perceptions, and interaction patterns to facilitate team performance (Hu et al., 2009). Therefore, shared mental models (SMMs), which include shared understanding among members about taskwork (e.g., rules, expectations, performance requirements, and work goals), and teamwork (i.e., how the team should work together, which involves having a shared understanding about roles/responsibilities, values, skills of teammates, and interaction patterns), and which has been considered to be a significant predictor of team performance (DeChurch and Mesmer-Magnus, 2010b), is examined in the current context of hospitality teams. Based on the critical role of these variables to hospitality team effectiveness, the purpose of this study is to test a bi-directional (two-way) relationship between SMMs and team learning behaviors using a longitudinal study design. Through doing so, we hope to contribute to the literature in multiple ways. First, we will examine the effects of SMMs over time. Time plays a critical role in the formation of team cognition (e.g., SMMs). Whereas individuals have individual cognitive structures and internal cognitive processes to organize those structures, teams have team cognitive structures and use external processes to organize those structures (Cooke et al., 2004). Given the complexity of the cognitive structures in a team, team cognition takes time to develop through the interplay between team knowledge and team processes (Cooke et al., 2004). However, little empirical research has been conducted in this area. Indeed, in a meta-analysis on the effects of team cognition on team effectiveness, DeChurch and Mesmer-Magnus (2010a) concluded that more research is needed that examines the reciprocal relationship between team processes/behaviors and the resultant team cognitive structures over time. Similarly, Pearsell et al. (2010) have suggested that increased interaction across time among team members are likely to create richer and more overlapping connections in teams’ cognitive structures. The authors recommended that researchers examine the bi-directional relationship between team actions and the formation of emergent states (Pearsell et al., 2010). Second, the current study will better position team learning behaviors in the team nomological network by empirically testing its relationship with SMMs. Team learning behavior is a continuing process of reflection and action, which involves asking questions, seeking feedback, experimenting, reflecting on results, and discussing errors or unexpected outcomes of actions (Edmondson et al., 2007 and Edmondson, 1999). It refers to the group interaction activities through which individuals in teams acquire, share, and combine knowledge (Argote et al., 1999), to adapt and improve (Gibson and Vermeulen, 2003). Despite the connection of the construct with learning and knowledge development (cf. Edmondson, 1999), it has yet to be linked to cognitive outcomes (e.g., SMMs). This will be addressed in the current study through examining its relationship with one of the most developed types of collective cognition, i.e., SMMs (Mathieu et al., 2008). Third, the current work will examine the proposed relationships with service-management teams. Recent team cognition researchers have called for studies with decision-making, project management, and service management teams to extend the generalizability of SMM theory (e.g., Mohammed et al., 2010). This need exists because most studies on SMMs have been conducted using action teams (e.g., military and aviation control teams) (Mohammed et al., 2010 and Chou et al., 2008). This gap will be addressed in the current study as service-management teams will be investigated in a restaurant setting.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The purpose of this study was to verify the temporal priority of SMMs on team learning behaviors using a longitudinal study design. We proposed competing hypotheses on the directionality of the relationship between SMMs and team learning behaviors. Our findings show that team learning behaviors at Time 1 positively predicted SMMs at Time 2, whereas SMMs at Time 1 did not have a significant impact on team learning behaviors at Time 2. Additionally, taskwork SMM and team learning behavior had a positive effect on team performance. This pattern of results suggests that, at least in the early stages of team formation, team processes (such as learning behaviors) may be more predictive of team cognition (SMMs) than vice versa. This idea is consistent with the fact that cognition takes time to develop in teams (cf. Cooke et al., 2004). Whereas individual cognitive processing takes place internally, team cognitive processing occurs externally through team members actively engaging in team processes to coordinate their knowledge. The results show that the sub-processes associated with team learning behaviors, i.e., discussing differences of opinion openly, seeking continuous feedback and information, and coordinating cognitive resources, are instrumental in getting team members on the same page for both taskwork and teamwork knowledge. The implications and limitations of these findings are discussed below. 5.1. Theoretical implications Two theoretical perspectives were pitted against each other in the current study. The first suggested that SMMs would play the role of an input and lead to the engagement in team learning behaviors. This perspective is grounded in the classic I-P-O model (Kraiger and Wenzel, 1997) and has proliferated current empirical research on SMMs (e.g., Marks et al., 2000, Marks et al., 2002, Mathieu et al., 2000 and Mathieu et al., 2005). The second perspective explored was adopted from the communications literature. This perspective suggested that effective communication strategies/team processes could help to build common group or shared understanding among group members (Clark and Brennan, 1991). SMMs are therefore viewed as an outcome to the use of effective team processes. The results of the current study lend greater support to the latter theoretical perspective than the former. These findings are consistent with the conceptual frameworks put forth by Ilgen et al. (2005) and Marks et al. (2001), which suggest that a reciprocal relationship exists between team inputs and team processes. Based on these findings, we encourage researchers to expand their perspectives on the role of SMMs on team processes by adopting conceptual models beyond the typical I-P-O framework. We also encourage researchers to broaden their measurement of SMMs. Findings such as the ones presented in the current study are often masked in the field due to the limited number of longitudinal studies that exist on SMMs. Given the cognitive effort required to complete some SMM measures, the construct is not often evaluated across multiple time points (Mohammed et al., 2010). However, it is only through heeding the call for more longitudinal research in the field (cf. DeChurch and Mesmer-Magnus, 2010b and Mohammed et al., 2010), that we will be able to adequately capture the dynamic nature of SMMs. 5.2. Practical implications First, the findings that team cognitions (SMMs) influence team performance, has implications for hospitality managers. Providing support to earlier studies (Mathieu et al., 2000, Mathieu et al., 2005 and Mathieu et al., 2010), the current work demonstrated that SMM enhances team performance. Taskwork and teamwork shared mental models help team members to be on the same page which helps team members to predict teammates’ behavior and potential needs; as a result, it is easier for team embers to obtain necessary support from teammates easily. Such support improves members’ timeliness and efficiency which ultimately results in increased quality of outcomes (Chou et al., 2008), that is, service quality. This finding has important implications for restaurant managers. Prior hospitality research has suggested that when employees have a shared understanding of service standards (i.e., taskwork SMM) and teamwork (i.e., teamwork SMM), it is easier for service providers to receive support from coworkers, which creates positive service atmosphere, consequently improving restaurant service and guest satisfaction (Susskind et al., 2007). Therefore, restaurant managers need to focus on the development of shared mental models in service management teams in restaurants. Second, the findings that team learning behaviors influence team performance, has implications for hospitality managers. Research in team dynamics has demonstrated the link between team processes (communication and cooperation) and team performance (Mathieu et al., 2005), and team learning and team performance (Van der Vegt et al., 2010 and Edmondson, 1999). Hospitality researchers have also noted the importance of team processes such as better communications and interactions among teammates to facilitate the performance of hospitality teams (Hu et al., 2009). Hospitality scholars have also explained how knowledge sharing facilitates the transformation of individual knowledge to group and organizational knowledge, which in turn results in the advancement of group/organizational learning and eventually greater organizational effectiveness (Yang, 2010 and Magnini, 2008). Therefore, hospitality studies have associated group processes and group learning with group/organizational effectiveness. Employee and group performance in hospitality industry is directly linked to customer perceived service quality and customer loyalty (Salanova et al., 2005). Therefore, the findings of the current study that team learning behavior improves team performance, has important implications for hotel/restaurant managers. Hospitality managers need to focus on the development of effective team processes such as team learning behaviors to improve restaurant service, guest satisfaction, and loyalty. The finding that team learning behaviors were more predictive of SMMs, than vice versa, has strong implications for team selection. Along with the use of self-managed teams, selective hiring was considered as one of the most important HRM practices in high performance work organizations in the hospitality and tourism industry (Kusluvan et al., 2010). When putting together self-managing service-management teams, it may be more important to focus on predictors of team processes as opposed to SMMs. Predictors of team processes have ranged from individual team member characteristics (e.g., personality variables), to team-level factors (e.g., task structure), to organizational and contextual factors (e.g., organizational design features and environmental complexity) (cf. Mathieu et al., 2008). Predictors specific to team learning behaviors include team psychological safety (i.e., the collective belief that the team is safe to take interpersonal risks) and team efficacy (i.e., shared perceptions that the group's effort will lead to successful performance) (Edmondson, 1999). Variables such as these should be taken into account in the creation of service management teams to help ensure that its members engage in team learning behaviors, which will help in the formation of SMMs. The findings from this study also have implications for team training. Along with the use of self-managed teams, and selective hiring, extensive training was also recognized as an important HRM practice for high performance hospitality organizations (Hinkin and Tracey, 2010). If team learning behaviors are more predictive of SMMs, than vice versa, then training strategies that focus on the development of teamwork processes should be more effective at building SMMs than strategies that focus on general taskwork knowledge. Such an effect is consistent with a recent meta-analysis of 168 independent studies on team training, which found that the impact of team training on cognitive outcomes was moderated by the content of the training (Salas et al., 2008). According to the meta-analysis, the relationship between training type and cognitive outcomes of training was .30 for taskwork training content (e.g., cross-training) and .52 for teamwork training content (e.g., team interaction training) (Salas et al., 2008). Hospitality organizations using self-managing service management teams should therefore consider implementing a teamwork-focused training strategy in the early stages of the team's development to help with the formation of team processes and thus SMMs. Overall, the findings have implications for human resource management issues in the hospitality and tourism industry. A recent review of human resource management issues in the hospitality and tourism industry by Kusluvan et al. (2010), showed a lack of adoption and implementation of progressive, high-performance, or high-involvement HRM practices by the industry. For this reason, the hospitality and tourism industry has a bad reputation of poor HRM practices (Kusluvan et al., 2010 and Lucas, 1996). However, increasing number of hospitality and tourism organizations are being recognized for their effective HRM practices (Hinkin and Tracey, 2010). High performance work organizations are characterized by effective HRM practices involving selective hiring, extensive training, self-managed teams, information sharing, and group based compensation based on performance (Kusluvan et al., 2010). The current work conducts research in a context which is very similar to a real-life restaurant setting. The study demonstrates how teamwork can result in improved outcomes in restaurant units. The paper also demonstrates factors that enhance team effectiveness, including shared understanding about taskwork and teamwork, and team learning behaviors. Hospitality/restaurant companies can use this framework to select, train, and develop effective service management teams for competitive advantage. 5.3. Limitations and future research As with any research, decisions regarding the design of the study resulted in methodological tradeoffs. First, SMMs were evaluated using questionnaires. Questionnaires are one of the popular SMM measures (e.g., Knight et al., 1999, Mathieu et al., 2006, Rapert et al., 2002 and Smith-Jentsch et al., 2005). These measures were selected for this study because they require little cognitive effort to complete, which makes them easier to be administered in field settings and over multiple points in time (cf. DeChurch and Mesmer-Magnus, 2010b and Mohammed et al., 2010). However, SMMs elicited through questionnaires may have a different relationship with team processes than SMMs elicited through concept maps or similarity ratings. A meta-analysis of 23 independent studies on SMMs has shown that the way in which SMMs are measured moderates the nature of the relationship between SMMs and team outcomes (DeChurch and Mesmer-Magnus, 2010b). The authors found that measures which capture both the content and structure of SMMs have a stronger relationship with team processes than measures that only capture content (DeChurch and Mesmer-Magnus, 2010b). According to the meta-analysis, the relationship between SMM and team process was weak and non-significant when measured using questionnaires (ρ = −.05), but significant and notably stronger when measured using similarity ratings (ρ = .27) or concept maps/card sorting (ρ = .17) (DeChurch and Mesmer-Magnus, 2010b). A reason for these differences may be the fact that questionnaires are restricted to only being able to capture the content of shared knowledge, whereas concept maps and paired similarity ratings are able to assess both content and structure (Mohammed and Dumville, 2001). Given this limitation of questionnaires, it is expected that the results of this study may be stronger with the use of other types of SMM measurements, such as concept maps and similarity ratings. However, future research in this area is warranted. Second, the results of the study may be limited by the sample size. According to Cohen (1988), sample size is positively related to the statistical power of an inferential test. Based on this problem the alpha level for this study was relaxed from α = .05 to α = .10 so that marginal effects could be interpreted (Cohen, 1988). Despite this adjustment the statistical conclusion validity of this study is supported by the differences in the strengths of the effect sizes observed. Critics of significance testing suggest that the magnitude of the effect size provides more reliable information than p values (e.g., Oakes, 1986 and Schmidt and Hunter, 1997). Effect size is not as sensitive to differences in sample size as p values (Oakes, 1986). The results from the current study show that the effect size for the impact of SMMs on the use of team learning behaviors was weak (task SMM: β = .03, p > .10; team SMM: β = .11, p > .10). On the other hand, team learning behaviors had a strong effect on the formation of SMMs (task SMM: β = .53, p < .05; team SMM: β = .41, p < 10.). The stark difference between these effect sizes strengthens the validity of our findings. However, given the fact that some researchers have recommended the use of both p values and effect size estimates to determine both the probability and strength of the observed effect (e.g., Denis, 2003), future research is needed that attempts to replicate the findings of the current study with a larger sample. Third, the current study collected panel data across two waves of time. These two waves were carefully selected to be meaningful and were based on key turning points in the team's life cycle. However, it is possible that the sharedness of mental models may have changed considerably between the two data points selected. Little is known about the stability of SMMs over time (Mohammed et al., 2010). For example, Langan-Fox (2003) has proposed that teams engage in three distinct phases in the formation of SMMs. These are the declarative phase (in which first impressions are used to learn the initial rules of the team), knowledge compilation phase (in which team members figure out the ‘shortcuts’ to the rules), and finally the expert/proceduralized knowledge phase (in which knowledge becomes implicit and performance becomes automatic). Expert teams are considered to have stronger and more stable shared mental models than teams in the declarative and knowledge compilation phases. To the authors’ knowledge, there has been no direct empirical test of this model. It is therefore not clear when SMMs change or the frequency with which they change. Future research is needed in investigating the directionality of the relationship between team processes and SMMs across several time periods to see if and when the strengths of the effects between the two sets of variables vacillate across time. Finally, the current work used service-management teams to test the proposed relationships, thereby extending the generalizability of the SMMs theory. Most prior work in this area focused on military teams, aviation control, and undergraduates performing laboratory tasks (Lim and Klein, 2006 and Mathieu et al., 2000). Responding to recent calls from scholars (Chou et al., 2008 and Mohammed et al., 2010) about the need to conduct SMM studies with decision-making teams, project management teams, and service management teams, the current study adds to the literature. Although, the context of the current study is restaurant management setting, we believe that the findings will hold in any decision-making, project management, knowledge-worker teams or service management teams. Therefore, future studies need to test the relationships in other contexts (e.g., departmental teams in hotels and restaurant unit management teams) and with other team types.