Project teams are regularly assembled by a variety of organizations in order to perform knowledge-intensive tasks. Previous shared experiences among their members can have a significant impact on team performance. In this study, we use a unique and detailed dataset of 6206 cardiac surgeries from a private hospital in Europe, property of an American non-profit organization, in order to examine how past shared experiences of individuals affect future team productivity. Using transactive memory system as theoretical framework, we first decompose overall team familiarity into horizontal familiarity (e.g. surgeon to surgeon) and hierarchical familiarity (e.g. surgeon to nurse) and find that the former one is more beneficial for team productivity than the latter one. Next, we observe that horizontal familiarity of high-power, high-status individuals has a higher impact on team productivity than the one among subordinate individuals. Finally, we investigate how past failure experiences of individuals in the same team can increase future team productivity more than past shared successes. Our results provide useful insights for managers who aim to increase team productivity via better team allocation strategies.

cardiac surgery, failure, hierarchy, productivity, team familiarity, transactive memory system,
Human Relations
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Avgerinos, E. (Emmanouil), Fragkos, I, & Huang, Y. (Yufei). (2019). Team familiarity in cardiac surgery operations: The effects of hierarchy and failure on team productivity. Human Relations. doi:10.1177/0018726719857122