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This study examined team processes and outcomes among 12 multi-university distributed project teams from 11 universities during its early and late development stages over a 14-month project period. A longitudinal model of team interaction is presented and tested at the individual level to consider the extent to which both formal and informal network connections—measured as degree centrality—relate to changes in team members’ individual perceptions of cohesion and conflict in their teams, and their individual performance as a team member over time. The study showed a negative network centrality-cohesion relationship with significant temporal patterns, indicating that as team members perceive less degree centrality in distributed project teams, they report more team cohesion during the last four months of the project. We also found that changes in team cohesion from the first three months (i.e., early development stage) to the last four months (i.e., late development stage) of the project relate positively to changes in team member performance. Although degree centrality did not relate significantly to changes in team conflict over time, a strong inverse relationship was found between changes in team conflict and cohesion, suggesting that team conflict emphasizes a different but related aspect of how individuals view their experience with the team process. Changes in team conflict, however, did not relate to changes in team member performance. Ultimately, we showed that individuals, who are less central in the network and report higher levels of team cohesion, performed better in distributed teams over time.


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© SAGE. Final version published as: Susskind, A. M., & Odom-Reed, P. R. (2016). Team member’s centrality, cohesion, conflict, and performance in multi-university geographically distributed project teams. Communication Research.
doi: 10.1177/0093650215626972
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.