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Promotion-focused and Prevention-focused? Regulatory Focus Ambidexterity and its Effects on Team Processes and Outcomes
Imai, Rin (Lynn)
Gelfand, Michele J
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Regulatory Focus Theory (Higgins, 1997, 1998), which states that individuals have distinct processes through which they approach desired end-states, has generated a tremendous amount of research activity in recent years. This literature shows that whether an individual pursues a goal with either a promotion focus or a prevention focus has important psychological consequences. However, research has focused largely on the individual-level, and not the team-level consequences of regulatory focus. Furthermore, the paradigm of contrasting the predominantly promotion-focused from the predominantly prevention-focused has precluded researchers from understanding the role of ambidextrous individuals who are simultaneously promotion-focused and prevention-focused. Accordingly, the goal of this dissertation was to examine whether having a higher proportion of certain regulatory focus types in the team (i.e., predominantly promotion-focused, predominantly prevention-focused, and ambidextrous types) is advantageous for team creativity and team timeliness, as well as the team processes that lead to each outcome. It was proposed that 1) teams with a higher proportion of predominantly promotion-focused types are more likely to attain team creativity as well as the processes that lead to it (i.e., placement of goal importance on creativity, idea generation, and task conflict), and 2) teams with a higher proportion of predominantly prevention-focused types are more likely to attain team timeliness as well as the processes that lead to it (i.e., placement of goal importance on timeliness and adoption of an early team pacing style). This dissertation also explored whether teams with higher proportion of ambidextrous types are more likely to attain higher team creativity and team timeliness, as well as the team processes that lead to these outcomes, relative to teams with lower proportions of such individuals. Based on a lab study of 89 simulated project teams, it was found as expected, that teams with higher proportions of ambidextrous types achieved greater team creativity than teams with lower proportions of such individuals. It was also found unexpectedly, that teams with higher proportions of ambidextrous types placed less importance on timeliness as a goal at the outset of the team task. In all, hypotheses were largely unsupported. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed along with directions for future research.