Group Decision and Negotiation

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 321–341 | Cite as

The Price of Team Spirit for Sensemaking Through Task Discourse in Innovation Teams

  • Martin RatzmannEmail author
  • Robin Pesch
  • Ricarda Bouncken
  • Carla Martínez Climent


Despite interest in innovation teams, we have only limited insights into how team members make sense of innovation teams’ inherent ambiguity. By referring to the sensemaking literature and to the research on task discourse, our study introduces task discourse as a valuable sensemaking mechanism in innovation teams. We argue that team creativity and feasibility testing increases the need for task discourse, which in turn improves team performance. Beyond this, we consider ambivalent effects of team spirit. On the one hand, team spirit allows leveraging smoothly synergies to emerge but on the other hand, high team spirit can limit team member’s willingness to challenge each other’s different perspectives and opinions critically. Data on 250 innovation teams of German manufacturing teams support the assumed beneficial effects of task discourse and the ambivalent effect of team spirit. Teams need sensemaking through task discourse when they want to achieve benefits from team creativity. The total effect of creativity on team performance is insignificant, while the indirect effect of team creativity on team performance is significantly positive. Our study enriches current research on ambiguity and sensemaking in innovation teams, answers the call to elaborate benefits and drawbacks team spirit might bring to teams, and provides valuable managerial implications.


Sensemaking Task discourse Ambiguity Team spirit Innovation team 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Strategic Management and OrganisationUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.University of ValènciaValenciaSpain

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