Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 37–45 | Cite as

How Participative Safety Matters More in Team Innovation as Team Size Increases

  • Vesa Peltokorpi
  • Mervi Hasu



The purpose of this study was to investigate if there is a moderating relation between team size and team innovation.


Data used in statistical analyses were obtained from 531 employees in 124 technology research teams.


The findings support the hypothesis, showing that not only team size, but also team size together with participative safety facilitates team innovation.


The findings show that not only large teams, but also large teams with participative safety are innovative. Team leaders thus need to ensure that collaborative rather than competitive environment prevails in their teams.


This is one of the first studies to assess team innovation by patents received and to provide evidence of the moderating relation of participative safety between team size and team innovation.


Participative safety Patent Research team Team innovation Team size 


  1. Aiken, L., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interaction. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, N. R., & West, M. A. (1998). Measuring climate for work group innovation: Development and validation of the Team Climate Inventory. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19, 235–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, N., De Dreu, C. K. W., & Nijstad, B. A. (2004). The routinization of innovation research: A constructively critical review of the state-of-the-science. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 147–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bain, P. G., Mann, L., & Pirola-Merlo, A. (2001). The innovation imperative: The relationship between team climate, innovation, and performance in research and development teams. Small Group Research, 32, 55–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Balkin, D. B., Tremblay, M., & Westerman, J. (2001). Workplace innovations in large, unionized Canadian organizations. Journal of Business and Psychology, 15, 439–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bledow, R., Frese, M., Anderson, N., Erez, M., & Farr, J. (2009). A dialectic perspective on innovation: Conflicting demands, multiple pathways, and ambidexterity. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2(3), 305–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bliese, P. D. (2000). Within-group agreement: non-independence, and reliability: Implications for data aggregation analyses. In K. J. Klein & S. W. J. Kozlowski (Eds.), Multilevel theory, research, and methods in organizations: Foundations, extensions, and new directions (pp. 349–381). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  8. Bouchard, T. J., & Hare, M. (1970). Size, performance, and potential in brainstorming groups. Journal of Applied Psychology, 54, 51–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burningham, C., & West, M. A. (1995). Individual, climate, and group interaction processes as predictors of work team innovation. Small Group Research, 26, 106–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caldwell, D. F., & O’Reilly, C. A. (2003). The determinants of team-based innovation in organizations: The role of social influence. Small Group Research, 34, 497–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Curral, L. A., Forrester, R. H., Dawson, J. F., & West, M. A. (2001). It’s what you do and the way you do it: Team task, team size, and innovation-related group processes. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 10, 187–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Dreu, C. K. W. (2006). When too little or too much hurts: Evidence for a curvilinear relationship between task conflict and innovation in teams. Journal of Management, 32, 83–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Drach-Zahavy, A., & Somech, A. (2001). Understanding team innovation: The role of team processes and structures. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 5, 111–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Edmondson, A. C. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44, 350–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Edmondson, A. C. (2004). Psychological safety, trust, and learning in organizations: A group-level lens. In R. M. Kramer & K. S. Cook (Eds.), Trust and distrust in organizations: Dilemmas and approaches (pp. 239–272). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  16. Eisenbeiss, S. A., van Knippenberg, D., & Boerner, S. (2008). Transformational leadership and team innovation: Integrating team climate principles. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1438–1446.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fay, D., Borrill, C., Amir, Z., Haward, R., & West, M. A. (2006). Getting the most out of multidisciplinary teams: A multi-sample study of team innovation in health care. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 79, 553–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Frost, T. S. (2001). The geographic sources of foreign subsidiaries’ innovations. Strategic Management Journal, 22, 101–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Glick, W. H. (1985). Conceptualizing and measuring organizational and psychological climate: Pitfalls in multilevel research. Academy of Management Review, 10, 601–616.Google Scholar
  20. Guzzo, R. A., & Dickson, M. W. (1996). Teams in organizations: Recent research on performance and effectiveness. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 307–338.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hagedoorn, J., & Cloodt, M. (2003). Measuring innovative performance: Is there an advantage in using multiple indicators? Research Policy, 32, 1365–1379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hambrick, D., & D’Aveni, R. (1992). Top team deterioration as part of downward spiral of large corporate bankruptcies. Management Science, 38, 1445–1466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hülsheger, U. R., Anderson, N., & Salgado, J. F. (2009). Team-level predictors of innovation at work: A comprehensive meta-analysis spanning three decades of research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1128–1145.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. James, L. R. (1982). Aggregation bias in estimates of perceptual agreement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67, 219–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. James, L. R., Demaree, R. G., & Wolf, G. (1984). Estimating within-group interrater reliability with and without response bias. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69, 85–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1993). The wisdom of teams: Creating the high performance organization. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kennedy, P. A. (1985). Guide to econometrics (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kivimäki, M., & Elovainio, M. (1999). A short version of the Team Climate Inventory: Development and psychometric properties. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 72, 241–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lantane, B., Williams, K., & Harkins, S. (1979). Many hands make light the work: The causes and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 822–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maloney, M. M., Johnson, S. G., & Zellmer-Bruhn, M. E. (2010). Assessing group-level constructs under missing data conditions: A Monte Carlo simulation. Small Group Research, 41, 281–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McGraw, K. O., & Wong, S. P. (1996). Forming inferences about some intraclass correlations coefficients. Psychological Methods, 1, 30–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nijstad, B. A., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2002). Creativity and group innovation. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 51, 400–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Peltokorpi, V. (2008). Transactive memory systems. Review of General Psychology, 12, 378–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Podsakoff, N. P., MacKenzie, S. M., Lee, J., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method variance in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 879–903.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Poulton, B. C., & West, M. A. (1999). The determinants of effectiveness in primary health care teams. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 13, 7–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Somech, A. (2006). The effect of leadership style and team process on performance and innovation in functionally heterogeneous teams. Journal of Management, 32, 132–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Staats, B. R., Milkman, K. L., & Fox, C. R. (2012). The team scaling fallacy: Underestimating the declining efficiency of larger teams. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 118, 132–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Steiner, I. D. (1972). Group process and productivity. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  39. Tjosvold, D. (1998). Making employee involvement work: Cooperative goals and controversy to reduce costs. Human Relations, 51, 201–214.Google Scholar
  40. Van der Vegt, G. S., Emans, B. J. M., & Van de Vliert, E. (2001). Patterns of interdependence in work teams: A two-level investigation of the relations with job and team satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 54, 51–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wegner, D. M. (1986). Transactive memory: A contemporary analysis of the group mind. In B. Mullen & G. R. Goethals (Eds.), Theories of group behavior (pp. 185–208). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  42. West, M. A. (1990). The social psychology of innovation in groups. In M. A. West & J. L. Farr (Eds.), Innovation and creativity at work: Psychological and organizational strategies (pp. 309–333). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  43. West, M. A., & Anderson, N. R. (1996). Innovation in top management teams. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 680–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. West, M. A., & Farr, J. L. (1989). Innovation at work: Psychological perspectives. Social Behavior, 4, 15–30.Google Scholar
  45. West, M. A., & Farr, J. L. (1990). Innovation at work. In M. A. West & J. L. Farr (Eds.), Innovation and creativity at work: Psychological and organizational strategies (pp. 3–13). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  46. Woodman, R. W., Sawyer, J. E., & Griffin, R. W. (1993). Toward a theory of organizational creativity. Academy of Management Review, 18, 293–321.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Japan Advanced Institute of Science and TechnologyNomiJapan
  2. 2.Finnish Institute of Occupational HealthHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations