Seminar at Brigham Young University – Software Team Effectiveness

One of the topics I would like to discuss is “Team Effectiveness”. This is a complex topic that has been studied from different perspectives in group research.

Hackman (1987) has argued that, for teams in organizations (i.e., in practice and not in a experimental lab setting), effectiveness is more complex than counting “right answers” or timing the development of a task. Hackman argues that certain team outputs can be difficult to quantify. Furthermore, teams in organizational contexts tend to work together for a much longer time than the participants in a laboratory experiment, and what happens to a team during the development of one project may affect the feasibility of this team working together in the future. In his model, Hackman defines effectiveness as a multiple construct composed of

1. Acceptance of team’s output or results by those that receive or review them (Client Satisfaction with results)

2. Maintained or enhanced capability of members of the team to work together in the future (Team Viability)

3. Team member’s satisfaction has not decreased the the team experience (Member satisfaction with teamwork)

Cohen (1993) asks the question of whether we consider a team that produces what expected as being successful even if the team members present low morale, are not satisfied with the work, come late to work, or the team turnover is right. In her model, Cohen also considers effectiveness as a multidimensional constructed composed of:

1. Performance: costs, productivity, quality.

2. Member attitudes: satisfaction, trust, commitment.

3. Withdrawal behaviors: absenteeism, turnover.

Yeats and Hyten (1998) acknowledge that effectiveness is multi-dimensional, but only performance as client satisfaction and team economic viability. Their argument is that using a more complex, multi-dimensional view of effectiveness would make a model less accurate, since each dimension is affected differently by other factors that influence team effectiveness.

In the seminar, I will present some of our studies in which distinct definitions of effectiveness were used. I would like to discuss the implications (practical and theoretical) of using simple or more complex definitions in understanding the effectiveness of software teams in practice.

Fabio Silva.


Cohen SG (1993) The Design of Effective Self-managing Teams. Advances in Interdisciplinary Studies of Work Teams. Vol. 1 Theories of Self-managing Working Teams 1:

Hackman J (1987) The design of work teams. Handbook of organizational behavior 315-342.

Yeatts DE, Hyten C (1998) High-performing self-managed work teams. Sage Publications, Inc.


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