Nonlinear Effects of Team Tenure on Team Psychological Safety Climate and Climate Strength: Implications for Average Team Member Performance

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Abstract

The teams literature suggests that team tenure improves team psychological safety climate and climate strength in a linear fashion, but the empirical findings to date have been mixed. Alternatively, theories of group formation suggest that new and longer tenured teams experience greater team psychological safety climate than moderately tenured teams. Adopting this second perspective, we used a sample of 115 research and development teams and found that team tenure had a curvilinear relationship with team psychological safety climate and climate strength. Supporting group formation theories, team psychological safety climate and climate strength were higher in new and longer tenured teams compared with moderately tenured teams. Moreover, we found a curvilinear relationship between team tenure and average team member creative performance as partially mediated by team psychological safety climate. Team psychological safety climate improved average team member task performance only when team psychological safety climate was strong. Likewise, team tenure influenced average team member task performance in a curvilinear manner via team psychological safety climate only when team psychological safety climate was strong. We discuss theoretical and practical implications and offer several directions for future research.

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