Team Structure and Regulatory Focus: The Impact of Regulatory Fit on Team Dynamic

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Abstract

We report a within-teams experiment testing the effects of fit between team structure and regulatory task demands on task performance and satisfaction through average team member positive affect and helping behaviors. We used a completely crossed repeated-observations design in which 21 teams enacted 2 tasks with different regulatory focus characteristics (prevention and promotion) in 2 organizational structures (functional and divisional), resulting in 84 observations. Results suggested that salient regulatory demands inherent in the task interacted with structure to determine objective and subjective team-level outcomes, such that functional structures were best suited to (i.e., had best fit with) tasks with a prevention regulatory focus and divisional structures were best suited to tasks with a promotion regulatory focus. This contingency finding integrates regulatory focus and structural contingency theories, and extends them to the team level with implications for models of performance, satisfaction, and team dynamics.

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