Topic: Job Design, Teams, Performance
Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior
Article: The impact of autonomy and task uncertainty on team performance: A longitudinal field study (FEB 2010)
Author: J. L. Cordery, D. Morrison, B. M. Wright, & T. D. Wall
Reviewed by: Sarah Teague
Modern jobs are becoming more interconnected every year. Where once we worked alone in our cubicles, we are now more likely to be part of a team collectively working toward some common goal. Additionally, the nature of work is increasingly reliant on employees’ ability to adapt to new and challenging situations. As such, much effort has gone (and continues to go) into the study of team effectiveness. Giving teams autonomy (freedom over the process through which they achieve their goal) is argued to be key in maximizing performance. However, results in the current literature have been mixed. Mixed results typically indicate the presence of some third important moderating variable that helps to explain why the relationship is different across time, people, or situations.
Accordingly, the current study sought to clarify the conditions under which team autonomy will lead to greater increases in performance. The authors identified task uncertainty (“the degree to which it is possible for a team to predict which tasks must be executed, when, how, and to whom) as a potential moderator and proposed three hypotheses. First, increased autonomy will be related to increased performance. Second, higher levels of task uncertainty will be related to decreased performance.