Teams leading teams: examining the role of leadership in multi-team systems Dissertation

(2002). Teams leading teams: examining the role of leadership in multi-team systems . 10.25148/etd.FI14062229

thesis or dissertation chair


  • DeChurch, Leslie A.


  • A major challenge of modern teams lies in the coordination of the efforts not just of individuals within a team, but also of teams whose efforts are ultimately entwined with those of other teams. Despite this fact, much of the research on work teams fails to consider the external dependencies that exist in organizational teams and instead focuses on internal or within team processes. Multi-Team Systems Theory is used as a theoretical framework for understanding teams-of-teams organizational forms (Multi-Team Systems; MTS's); and leadership teams are proposed as one remedy that enable MTS members to dedicate needed resources to intra-team activities while ensuring effective synchronization of between-team activities. Two functions of leader teams were identified: strategy development and coordination facilitation; and a model was developed delineating the effects of the two leader roles on multi-team cognitions, processes, and performance.

    Three hundred eighty four undergraduate psychology and business students participated in a laboratory simulation that modeled an MTS; each MTS was comprised ofthree, two-member teams each performing distinct but interdependent components of an F-22 battle simulation task. Two roles of leader teams supported in the literature were manipulated through training in a 2 (strategy training vs. control) x 2 (coordination training vs. control) design. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANO VA) and mediated regression analysis were used to test the study's hypotheses.

    Results indicate that both training manipulations produced differences in the effectiveness of the intended form of leader behavior. The enhanced leader strategy training resulted in more accurate (but not more similar) MTS mental models, better inter-team coordination, and higher levels of multi-team (but not component team) performance. Moreover, mental model accuracy fully mediated the relationship between leader strategy and inter-teani coordination; and inter-team coordination fully mediated the effect of leader strategy on multi-team performance. Leader coordination training led to better inter-team coordination, but not to higher levels of either team or multi-team performance. Mediated Input-Process-Output (I-P-O) relationships were not supported with leader coordination; rather, leader coordination facilitation and inter-team coordination uniquely contributed to component team and multi-team level performance. The implications of these findings and future research directions are also discussed.

publication date

  • October 30, 2002

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)