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Productive Interrelationships between Collaborative Groups Ease the Challenges of Dynamic and Multi-Teaming


Work organization and team membership is highly complex for modern workers. Teams are often dynamic as personnel change during a project. Dynamic team members have to be actively recruited and personnel changes make it harder for participants to retain group focus. Workers are often members of multiple groups. Though prior work has identified the prevalence of multi-teaming and dynamic teams, it has been unable to explain how workers cope with the challenges the new style of work should cause. This paper systematically characterizes the modern organizational landscape from an individual perspective, by studying how people typically organize work across their multiple collaborative groups. A unique contribution of our work is to examine the interrelationships between the collaborative groups individuals typically participate in. We introduce the notion of a collaboration profile to characterize these interrelations. We expected workers to be overburdened by contributing to multiple teams often with shifting personnel. However, we found that multi-teaming involves productive interrelationships between collaborative groups that ease some of the documented challenges of dynamic teams, such as goal setting, recruiting, and group maintenance. We define a typology that describes the various types of collaborative groups workers participate in, and provide examples of productive interrelations between collaborations. In characterizing interrelations between collaborations, we provide detailed examples of how people exploit resources across their different collaborations to address the problems of working in multiple dynamic teams.

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We thank our study participants for their time and thoughtful feedback. We thank Pamela Hinds and Mark Mortensen for their expertise in discussions during the early stages of this research.

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Correspondence to Tara Matthews.

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Matthews, T., Whittaker, S., Moran, T.P. et al. Productive Interrelationships between Collaborative Groups Ease the Challenges of Dynamic and Multi-Teaming. Comput Supported Coop Work 21, 371–396 (2012).

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Key words

  • collaboration types
  • collaborative work
  • multi-teaming
  • interrelations
  • office
  • teams
  • workplace