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How knowledge worker teams deal effectively with task uncertainty

The impact of transformational leadership and group development
: Leuteritz, Jan-Paul; Navarro, José; Berger, Rita

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Frontiers in Psychology 8 (2017), Art. 1339, 12 pp.
ISSN: 1664-1078
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IAO ()

The purpose of this paper is to clarify how leadership is able to improve team effectiveness, by means of its influence on group processes (i.e., increasing group development) and on the group task (i.e., decreasing task uncertainty). Four hundred and eight members of 107 teams in a German research and development (R&D) organization completed a web-based survey; they provided measures of transformational leadership, group development, 2 aspects of task uncertainty, task interdependence, and team effectiveness. In 54 of these teams, the leaders answered a web-based survey on team effectiveness. We tested the model with the data from team members, using structural equations modeling. Group development and a task uncertainty measurement that refers to unstable demands from outside the team partially mediate the effect of transformational leadership on team effectiveness in R&D organizations (p < 0.05). Although transformational leaders reduce unclarity of goals (p < 0.05), this seems not to contribute to team effectiveness. The data provided by the leaders was used to assess common source bias, which did not affect the interpretability of the results. Limitations include cross-sectional data and a lower than expected variance of task uncertainty across different job types. This paper contributes to understanding how knowledge worker teams deal effectively with task uncertainty and confirms the importance of group development in this context. This is the first study to examine the effects of transformational leadership and team processes on team effectiveness considering the task characteristics uncertainty and interdependence.