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Gang Article Accepted in Group and Organization Management

Dr. KwangWook Gang and his co-authors Dr. Woonki Hong, Dr. Lu Zhang and Dr. Boreum Choi have a forthcoming article in Group and Organization Management titled “The Effects of Expertise and Social Status on Team Member Influence and the Moderating Roles of Intragroup Conflicts.”

Drawing on expectation states theory and expertise utilization literature, they examine the effects of team members’ actual expertise and social status on the degree of influence they exert over team processes via perceived expertise. They also explore the conditions under which teams rely on perceived expertise versus social status in determining influence relationships in teams. To do so, they present a contingency model in which the salience of expertise and social status depends on the types of intragroup conflicts. They use multiwave survey data from 50 student project teams with 320 members at a large national research institute located in South Korea.

The results of this study suggest several important lessons for managers and team leaders who launch new projects. Their results show that the effect of social status on perceived expertise weakens with increased team tenure. Thus, managers or team leaders must help members observe one another’s actual task performance during the early phases of projects to enable them to accurately identify and rely on expert members. The findings also suggest that managers and team leaders should invest in helping teams diagnose conflict types. Their findings indicate that task expertise matters less under high levels of relationship conflict. Managers or team leaders need to be aware of the detrimental effect of relationship conflicts in obtaining expert members’ input on team decision making and should attempt to mitigate such negative effects. For example, interventions emphasizing interdependence (e.g., collective goals, shared rewards) and trust may prevent or minimize relationship conflict. Their findings also reveal that when task conflicts emerge, the influence of perceived expertise on member influence is strong, and thus, strategies that facilitate task conflict are necessary. However, the act of promoting task conflict must be deliberately supervised, because teams can take advantages of task conflict when its level is moderate.

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