Collaboration and meaning analysis process in intense problem solving teams

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Northeastern University]On: 06 October 2014, At: 09:02Publisher: Taylor &amp; FrancisInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Theoretical Issues in ErgonomicsSciencePublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>Collaboration and meaning analysisprocess in intense problem solvingteamsJoan R. Rentsch a , Abby L. Mello a &amp; Lisa A. Delise aa Department of Management , The University of Tennessee ,Knoxville, TN 37996, USAPublished online: 23 Jun 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: Joan R. Rentsch , Abby L. Mello &amp; Lisa A. Delise (2010) Collaboration andmeaning analysis process in intense problem solving teams, Theoretical Issues in ErgonomicsScience, 11:4, 287-303, DOI: 10.1080/14639221003729151</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics ScienceVol. 11, No. 4, JulyAugust 2010, 287303</p><p>Collaboration and meaning analysis processin intense problem solving teams</p><p>Joan R. Rentsch*, Abby L. Mello and Lisa A. Delise</p><p>Department of Management, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA</p><p>(Received 6 August 2009; final version received 12 August 2009)</p><p>A set of testable propositions based on the collaboration and meaning analysisprocess (C-MAP) are presented. The C-MAP involves the conscious externali-sation of knowledge to support knowledge transfer, the development of innovatedknowledge and the development of cognitive similarity in intense problem solvingteams (Rentsch, J.R., Delise, L.A., and Hutchison, S., 2008a. Transferringmeaning and developing cognitive similarity in decision making teams:collaboration and meaning analysis process. In: M.P. Letsky, et al., eds.Macrocognition in teams. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 127142).Innovated knowledge is collaboratively created knowledge not initially possessedby the team when it was composed. Intense problem solving teams are distributedteams in which each member possesses unique expert information that must beintegrated to achieve a viable solution. The teams work in difficult contexts andtheir decisions have high risk implications. The cognitive processes included inthe C-MAP may be regarded as macrocognitive processes (e.g. Klein, G., et al.,2003. Macrocognition. IEEE Intelligent Systems, May/June, 8185; Letsky, M.P.,et al., 2007. Macrocognition in complex team problem solving. In: 12thinternational command and control research and technology symposium (12thICCRTS), Newport, RI, June 2007. Washington, DC: U.S. Department ofDefense Command and Control Research Program). The role of knowledgeobjects and schema-enriched communication as two mechanisms for externalisingcognition to promote innovated knowledge are described.</p><p>Keywords: macrocognition; team cognition; distributed teams; team problemsolving; team member schema similarity; team mental models</p><p>1. Introduction</p><p>The set of testable propositions articulates a process to promote the development ofinnovated knowledge and cognitive similarity among team members through collaborativeexternalisation of internal knowledge. The use of knowledge objects and schema-enrichedcommunication as mechanisms to support the effectiveness of externalisation ofinternalised knowledge are described.</p><p>The purpose of the present article is to offer a set of propositions based on thecollaboration and meaning analysis process (C-MAP). The C-MAP involves the consciousexternalisation of knowledge to support knowledge transfer, the development of innovatedknowledge and the development of cognitive congruence in intense problem solving teams(Rentsch et al. 2008a). The cognitive processes included in the C-MAP may be regarded</p><p>*Corresponding author. Email:</p><p>ISSN 1464536X online</p><p> 2010 Taylor &amp; FrancisDOI: 10.1080/14639221003729151</p><p></p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 09:</p><p>02 0</p><p>6 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>as macrocognitive processes (e.g. Klein et al. 2003, Letsky et al. 2007), because theyare high level cognitive processes associated with the creation of innovated congruentknowledge within teams. These processes include the transfer and integration of uniqueknowledge and they influence knowledge flow among individual, interindividual andteam levels.</p><p>The propositions presented here are expected to be most relevant to intense problem-solving teams in which each member possesses unique expert information that must beintegrated in order for the team to achieve a viable problem solution. These teams faceimpediments to their ability to transfer and integrate knowledge due to such contextualfeatures as technology mediated communication; time constraints; excessive, dynamic anduncertain information; and heterogeneous and rotating membership. We refer to theseteams as intense problem-solving teams (intense teams) because the complexity of theirproblems and the high risk implications associated with their problem solutions and thenature of their contexts and compositions demand that these teams be resolute,persevering, strong and focused.</p><p>The primary challenge facing intense problem solving teams is to exploit the knowledgepossessed by the team in order to generate innovated knowledge essential for achievinga high quality problem solution. Innovated knowledge is collaboratively createdknowledge not possessed by the team when it was composed. Innovated knowledgeforms as an integration, synthesis, or synergism of the knowledge initially available inthe team.</p><p>Transferring knowledge among team members is vital to the creation of innovatedknowledge. Although the information sharing research offers some understanding of theknowledge transfer and integration challenges faced by intense teams, it has beenconducted using relatively simple tasks and offers impractical remedies (Davenport et al.2007). More importantly, the information sharing research does not directly address thecognitive processes that occur in teams. Therefore, the set of testable propositionspresented here advance the information sharing research by articulating a process ofexternalising and internalising knowledge to promote knowledge transfer and integration.The propositions address how knowledge interoperability, innovated knowledge andcognitive similarity develop among team members as they work to achieve high qualityproblem solutions. Also described is the use of schema-enriched communication andknowledge objects as mechanisms for externalising knowledge to support the collabora-tion process.</p><p>2. Process impediments for intense problem solving teams</p><p>The information sharing research provides consistent and robust empirical findingsindicating that teams have difficulty eliciting and expressing uniquely held information(e.g. Campbell and Stasser 2006). Team members tend to discuss commonly heldinformation at the expense of discussing uniquely held information (e.g. Stasser andTitus 2003) and teams tend to make higher quality decisions when all members share theirunique information than when they merely discuss and repeat common information(Stasser and Stewart 1992, Larson et al. 1998). In the case of intense teams, which arecomposed of members who possess unique expert knowledge necessary to reach a solution,this sampling bias will severely inhibit the teams ability to achieve a high quality solution.Poor contextual conditions (e.g. high temporal pressure, high cognitive load, andtechnology mediated communication) add forces that impede the sharing of unique</p><p>288 J.R. Rentsch et al.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 09:</p><p>02 0</p><p>6 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>information and engender poor quality decisions and team performance (e.g. Campbelland Stasser 2006).</p><p>For example, technology mediated communication, characterised by low informationrichness, associated with negative effects including decreased accountability, inhibition,self-regulation, trust, and commitment, and increased self-absorption and counter-normative behaviour (Savicki et al. 1996, Martins et al. 2004). Research has shown thatrelative to communication within co-located teams, communication within distributedteams is characterised by lower frequency and effectiveness (e.g. Walther 1997).Furthermore, in technology mediated contexts team members experience difficultyexpressing themselves, interpreting communications from teammates, and drawinginferences about and predicting other team members responses (e.g. Martins et al.2004). In short, technology mediated communication impedes team members ability toexternalise their expert knowledge and to internalise and make useful the knowledgeof others.</p><p>Suggested remedies to combat the bias against sharing unique information in teamsinclude making all informational resources available to team members; warning teammembers that all information is not held in common; and designing tasks that havea perceived correct answer, low information load, and a low percentage of uniqueinformation (Stasser and Stewart 1992, Stewart and Stasser 1995, Schittekatte 1996,Larson et al. 1998; Franz and Larson 2002). Clearly, these remedies are impractical andoutside the control of teams working in natural settings (Klein et al. 2003). The mostpractical remedy for intense problem solving teams is to inform all team members of theareas of expertise (unique knowledge) each team member possesses (Stewart and Stasser1995, Franz and Larson 2002) and to inform team members that they must work to extractexpert knowledge from and supply it to each other.</p><p>In addition, the information sharing research does not explicitly address cognitiveprocesses that occur in teams. For example, it lacks an explanation of how team membersunderstand the information their teammates share. Information sharing is functional onlyto the extent that the information translates into knowledge that is useful to all teammembers. In order for an intense team to exploit the knowledge it possesses, teammembers must transfer knowledge to each other rather than simply share information.The amount of information shared has typically been determined by assessing the extent towhich unique information has been pooled during the teams discussion. The entire teamor individual members provide a statement or recitation of the facts from the taskmaterials (Stewart and Stasser 1995, Campbell and Stasser 2006) or taped team discussionsare content coded for a count of facts mentioned (Stasser and Stewart 1992, Stewart andStasser 1995). However, intense teams require more than merely pooled information togenerate high quality solutions. They require knowledge transfer - the conveyance ofunderstanding.</p><p>Knowledge transfer requires explanation of the meaning or understanding ofinformation (e.g. what it means, why it is relevant) and will likely require some degreeof perspective taking in order for knowledge to be presented in a manner such that othersmay access and utilise it (Rentsch et al. 2008a). Each team member on an intense team isan expert in a unique domain and very likely is essentially a novice in the other teammembers expert domains (Rentsch et al. 2008a). Transferring expert knowledge to relativenovices is particularly challenging, because experts and novices tend to articulateknowledge differently (Hinds et al. 2001). Experts explain tasks using broad termsand relative novices (i.e. those who have some exposure to a domain, but whohave not achieved expert status) tend to explain tasks using concrete statements.</p><p>Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science 289</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 09:</p><p>02 0</p><p>6 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>Furthermore, novices who have no domain exposure and who are instructed by relativenovices tend to perform better than novices, who are instructed by experts (Hinds et al.2001). The differential schema structures of experts and novices create difficulties for teammembers in transferring their knowledge to one another.</p><p>In summary, intense teams face impediments including bias against sharing uniqueknowledge and difficulties associated with conveying expert knowledge to novices. Thepropositions presented below are based on the collaboration and meaning analysis processand were designed to serve as a foundation for interventions to aid teams, particularlyintense teams, in overcoming these types of impediments. The propositions presentrelations among externalised and internalised cognitive processes.</p><p>3. Overview of the C-MAP</p><p>The collaboration and meaning analysis process (C-MAP) is an intervention intended toincrease a teams capacity to exploit its available knowledge by externalising knowledgeusing two mechanisms, schema-enriched communication and the creation of knowledgeobjects. Schema-enriched communication involves team members communicating theirinformation to one another to disclose deep understanding of the information (i.e. conveycontent and structure of ones schema). Creation of knowledge objects enables teammembers to work collaboratively to develop a representation of their understanding of thetask information (Fischer and Mandl 2005). Using these mechanisms, team members learnor discover how their unique information affects the teams overall understanding of theproblem. Through their joint efforts team members can create innovated knowledge aboutthe problem to generate a high quality solution. The use...</p></li></ul>