A Complexity-Based Approach to Intra-Organizational Team Selection
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Early studies recognized the significance of team's work capacity and suggested the selection of team members based on individual skills and performance in alignment with task characteristics. The equitable team selection method, for example, assigns people to different tasks with even skill distributions for the best overall performance. Recent advancement in organization science also identifies the importance of contextual skills. However, work teams are complex adaptive systems with interdependence between workers and social environment, and exhibit surprising, nonlinear behavior. Optimizing individual stages without taking organizational complexity into account is unlikely to yield a high performing new combination of teams. The objectives of this study can be stated as: a) Utilizing complex system theory to better understand the processes of team selection including forming teams with considering worker's interdependence and replacing the unsuitable members through a time frame; b) Comparing different team selection methods, including random selection, equity method, using knowledge of interdependence in different economic conditions through simulation; c) Comparing different policies of replacing members of teams. This study utilizes a computational model to understand the complexity of project team selection and to examine how diversity of capability and interdependence between workers to effect team performance in different economic conditions. The NK model, a widely used theory for complex systems is utilized here to illustrate the worker's interdependence and fed into an Agent-Based Model. This study uses a small design firm as a case implementation to examine the performance of a variety of team selection approaches and replacement policies. Project data, task assignment, and individual and team performance information were collected for the period of 2009-2011. The simulation results show that while the equity selection method can increase the diversity of capabilities of teams, the net performance is often worse than optimizing worker interdependencies. This study suggests that managers should protect their higher-performing workers with minimal interdependence disruption when they considered team selection. Thus taking the advantages and disadvantages of all three policies into account, transferring low contributors or least supported members are recommended to be enacted before hiring new workers to avoid this last policy's especially large additional costs.