• Bridging the faultline gap: Antecedents of cooperative decision-making in crossed-groups social dilemmas

      De Pauw, Ann-Sophie (2013)
      Teamwork has gained increasing importance in organizations for both decision-making and production. For companies to retain a competitive advantage, more emphasis is placed on processes as creativity and social innovation where added value is created by bundling forces via cooperation in work groups. At the same time in our globalized world, these teams have become more diverse due to increasing internationalization of organizations, in operations and in workforce. Furthermore, strategic processes within and between organizations - such as mergers and acquisitions, alliances, joint ventures and other internal organizational restructurings - result in the formation of newly composed teams, with employees originating from different organizations or departments that are now restructured into one. In these heterogeneous teams, (at least) two subgroups arise. Team members represent two (or more) social entities and categorize members of their own subgroup as ‘in-group’, while considering the other subgroup as ‘out-group’. They are confronted with a crossed-groups social dilemma: continue to act in their self-interest or that of their former team – which is now only a subgroup in the new team – or act in everyone’s interest and contribute to the newly composed team? Free-riding always results in more individual profit on the short-term, regardless of other group members’ choices, but all team members and the organization as a whole are better off if all members cooperate. Aim of this doctoral research is to identify individual and contextual antecedents of cooperation in such heterogeneous teams, in which members – in the presence of subgroups – are confronted with a crossed-groups social dilemma. To realize this objective, five empirical studies investigating these antecedents were conducted. In the first part, we describe the development of the crossed-groups social dilemma game. This game allows to study individual decision-making in heterogeneous teams, in the presence of two (or more) subgroups. Two empirical studies show the effect of group composition: team members cooperate more if their in-subgroup forms a majority than when their own subgroup represents a minority. We also study the effect of social value orientation as an antecedent of cooperation in these heterogeneous teams. Results show that individuals with a prosocial value orientation cooperate consistently, irrespective of group composition, whereas a proself value orientation results in consistent defection. In the second part, we investigate the effect of faultline deactivation as a contextual antecedent of cooperative decision-making in heterogeneous teams. ‘Faultlines’ are hypothetical dividing lines that split up a team in two (or more) subgroups based on one or more attributes, such as pre-merger team membership. The results of two empirical studies show that faultline deactivation – via a common goal for the team – makes team members less sensitive for (sub)group composition when deciding to cooperate (or not): more team members cooperate consistently, irrespective of group composition, but also more team members defect consistently. To address the latter phenomenon it can be of importance to combine a common goal for the team with other managerial strategies, such as leadership. In the third part, we describe the impact of a visionary leader, with a common goal and a long-term vision for the future of the team, on cooperation in these heterogeneous teams. Results of the empirical study show that the visionary leader can increase cooperation levels in the heterogeneous team. Moreover, there is not only more consistent cooperation of team members, but also less consistent defection. The leader’s affiliation with the ‘in-subgroup’ or the ‘out-subgroup’ has no impact on team members’ cooperation in this study.