The Effects of Communication Networks and Membership Stability on Transactive Memory Systems and Group Performance: An Experimental Investigation

Date and Location

Mar 17, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Phelps 1410, Executive Learning Center


Linda Argote
David M Kirr & Barbara A. Kirr Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory Director, Center for Organizational Learning, Innovation, & Knowledge
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Melon University


We theorize that the communication network that is most effective for groups with stable membership differs from the network that is most effective when membership change occurs. More specifically, we hypothesize that groups with decentralized communication networks perform better when membership is stable than when turnover occurs. By contrast, we expect centralized networks to perform better when turnover occurs than when group membership is stable. The structure and explicit coordination logic of centralized networks allow these groups to incorporate the ideas and perspectives of new members. We empirically analyze the effects of communication networks and member turnover on group performance in an experiment of 109 four-person groups performing two collaborative, creative problem-solving tasks. When team membership was stable, decentralized groups developed stronger transactive memory systems (TMS) than centralized groups which explained their better performance. When turnover occurred,however, decentralized groups talked less to their new members, which weakened their TMSs and hurt their performance. By contrast, centralized groups communicated more with their new members, which enabled them to incorporate the contributions of new members and improve their performance. Thus, our results indicate that the stability of group membership is an important factor that determines the effect of communication networks on group performance. The implications of these results for theory and practice are developed.

Sponsored by the UCSB Technology Management Program (TMP) Dean's Research Lecture Series.

If you are interested in attending this talk, please RSVP and select your lunch preference in this Google Form by 10:00am onTuesday, March 14th:**