South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences, Vol 17, No 1 (2014)

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Multiple project team membership and performance: Empirical evidence from engineering project teams

Kai-Ying Alice Chan

Abstract


Individuals are increasingly involved in more than one project team. This implies that an employee has multiple memberships in these project teams simultaneously, a phenomenon known as multiple team membership (MTM). Previous, predominantly theoretical studies have acknowledged the impacts that MTM has on performance but very scarce empirical evidence exists. The aim of this study is to provide empirical support for some of these theoretical claims using data collected from 435 team members in 85 engineering project teams in South Africa. Results show that MTM has an inverted-U shaped relationship with individual performance and a positive linear relationship with team performance. When a person is working in multiple project teams simultaneously, he/she may encounter more diverse sources of ideas across all teams and thus enhances his/her innovative performance. However, as the number of MTM increases, the negative effect of task switching and fragmented attention will negatively impact on individual performance. At the project team level, a large number of MTM in a focal team allows the team members to integrate diverse sources of knowledge and resources into the focal team. This study also found that individuals’ emotional skills and cognitive skills impact on individual performance. It is recommended to programme and project portfolio managers, who often are involve in scheduling of human resources to multiple projects, to acknowledge both the positive and negative impacts of MTM on performance. Moreover, in high MTM situations, project team members with high emotional and cognitive skills should be selected.

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EISSN 2222-3436 (Online)