Antecedents of work team flow: A survey study in four public organizations

L.A. van Oortmerssen, M.C.J. Caniels, K. (Karlijn) Verbrugge, A. (Anouk) van Ritbergen

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Recent studies suggest that flow experiences in teams have positive effects on teams’ performance and innovative outcomes (Aube et al., 2014; van Oortmerssen et al., 2015). Whereas flow was developed originally as a concept referring to the optimal experience of an individual (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990), research suggests that interacting team members may experience a collective form of flow (e.g. Salanova et al., 2014). However, the topic of flow in a work team context is still largely unexplored and little is known about what factors foster collective flow in teams. Moreover, the few studies that were conducted so far were based on data collected in ad hoc student teams. These teams differ from teams in real life organizational settings, where team member often work together over a longer period of time. In the study reported on in this paper, 368 respondents from 60 teams in four public organizations in different domains were included in a survey study. Results of the multi-level analysis showed that team goal commitment, participative safety, and knowledge sharing were positively associated with work team flow. Moreover, collective efficacy beliefs served as a mediator in the relationship between team goal commitment and work team flow. Insights form this study enrich and complement the nascent body of knowledge on work team flow by confirming several previously studied antecedents and adding previously unknown antecedents and a mediator relation. Moreover, it is the first study that investigates work team flow on a collective level in a real life organizational setting.
Literature:Aubé, C., Brunelle, E., & Rousseau, V. (2014). Flow experience and team performance: The role of team goal commitment and information exchange. Motivation & Emotion, 38, 120-130. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.van Oortmerssen, L. A., Van Woerkum, C. M. J., & Aarts, N. (2015). When interaction flows: An exploration of collective creative processes on a collaborative governance board. Group & Organization Management, 40, 500-528.Salanova, M., Rodríguez-Sanchez, A. M., Schaufeli, W. B., & Cifre, E. (2014). Flowing together: A longitudinal study of collective efficay and collective flow among workgroups. The Journal of Psychology, 148, 435-455.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2019
EventLearning and Innovation in Resilient Systems 2019 - Open Universiteit, Heerlen, Netherlands
Duration: 24 Oct 201925 Oct 2019


SymposiumLearning and Innovation in Resilient Systems 2019
Abbreviated titleLIRS2019
Internet address


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