Individual Deals Within Teams: Investigating the Role of Relative I-deals for Employee Performance

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Abstract

The authors extend i-deals theory to an individual-within-a-team context. Drawing upon social comparison theory, they contend that individuals will react to their own i-deals within the context of group members’ i-deals. Therefore, they examine the role of relative i-deals (an individual’s i-deals relative to the team’s average) in relation to employee performance. Furthermore, integrating social comparison theory with social identity theory the authors assert that the behavioral outcomes of relative i-deals are influenced by the team’s social and structural attributes of team orientation and task interdependence. Finally, they contend that the perceptions of one’s relative standing with the leader, or leader–member exchange social comparison (LMXSC), mediate the i-deals–outcome relationship in groups with low team orientation and task interdependence. Results of multilevel modeling using time-lagged data from 321 employees nested in 46 teams demonstrated that the positive relationship between relative i-deals and employee performance was stronger in groups with low team orientation and task interdependence, and the mediation effect of LMXSC was stronger in teams with low rather than high team orientation.

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