Fluent flow – the role of team characteristics for team flow

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Abstract

Team flow in a work-related context is recently gaining attention (Duncan & West, 2018; van den Hout et al., 2018; de Moura & Porto Bellini, 2019). When in flow, team members interact intensively, are absorbed in their collective activities, and have positive emotions. Studies suggest that team flow has positive effects on team performance (e.g. Aube et al., 2014), yet, scarce studies have empirically investigated the prerequisites of team flow. We draw on (work-related) flow theory (Bakker, 2008; Csikszentmihalyi, 1990), and recent conceptualisations of group flow in work teams (Duncan & West, 2018; van den Hout et al., 2018; de Moura & Porto Bellini, 2019) to theorize about the relationship between team characteristics and team flow. The aim of this multi-level study is to examine the extent to which team characteristics such as having a shared goal, mutual commitment and collective ambition are related to the flow of the team. In addition, we assess the degree in which the linkage of team characteristics with team flow is mediated by levels of mutual feedback, while the
relationship between team characteristics and mutual feedback is moderated by
contextual team factors, including safety climate.
Data was collected from a sample containing 292 employees in 48 teams from 22 organisations. Surveys were self-administered. Multilevel structural equation
modelling was applied to test relationships. The analyses generate various interesting findings. Most notable are the following. First, we find that a strong degree of collective goals is associated with a high level of feedback, which in turn is also associated with more team flow. When controlling for feedback, we find an additional direct negative relationship between team collective goals and team flow. This finding suggests that a strong orientation on shared goals may only be beneficial for team flow when the shared goals stimulate mutual feedback and discussion, otherwise shared goals may have a hampering effect and even limit team flow. Second, we find that a high level of team collective ambition is associated 6th International Conference on Management and Organization 16 with less feedback. This result seems to suggest that having a high level of ambition as a team leads to putting less effort in giving one another feedback. Nevertheless, we do find an additional direct positive path from team ambition to team flow. The relationship between team goal commitment and team flow was fully mediated by feedback. No evidence was found for moderation at the team level. Our study contributes to our understanding of the mediating and moderating processes through which team characteristics are linked with team flow. When team flow occurs, team members experience a complete involvement in their common activity, which is likely to improve team performance (van den Hout et al., 2018). Our study shows that managers who seek to promote team flow, may want to focus on facilitating and encouraging sharing feedback among team members, as this is essential for attaining a flow experience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication6 th International Conference on Management and Organization
Subtitle of host publicationIntegrating organizational research: individual, team, organizational and multilevel perspectives
EditorsTomislav Hernaus, Aleša Saša Sitar
Place of PublicationLjubljana
PublisherSlovenian Academy of Management
Pages15-18
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)978-961-94726-3-7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Event6th International Conference on Management and Organization - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 23 Jun 202224 Jun 2022

Conference

Conference6th International Conference on Management and Organization
Country/TerritorySlovenia
CityLjubljana
Period23/06/2224/06/22

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