Teamwork A new article in the American Psychology Association periodical, Monitor, shows the science is clear, teams work because of their Attitudes, Behaviors and Cognitive states of togetherness.

Dr. Suzanne Bell wrote, “If a team is going to work it needs to bring together diverse thinkers who bring a range of knowledge, skills, and abilities to the project”.

The article goes on to say that team science research shows that collaborating across organizational and geographic boundaries increases productivity and scientific impact. Further, that cross-disciplinary teams produce more academic publications and publish in more diverse outlets.

That doesn’t mean that institutions will follow the science. As the article points out, tenure and promotion are usually based on outputs such as academic publications and more weight is given to the lead author. This model rewards competition, not interdisciplinary cooperation.

Culturally diverse teams can create benefits and drawbacks. Culturally diverse teams bring uniqueness to the project but such teams take longer to gel than a team with similar backgrounds and mindsets.

Trust seems to be an issue for the newly formed multicultural team.

Differences in leadership style can also overlook different cultural needs. Some cultures seek direction from a leader whereas others promote a more maverick approach.

The article by Dr. Bell suggests that teams benefit from

  • Team building exercises
  • Team training exercises
  • Leadership Training and
  • Debriefing

A program called TeamSTEPPS developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency was recommended (https://www.ahrq.gov/teamstepps/index.html).

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