So many teams, so little time: Time allocation matters in geographically dispersed teams


Journal Article

Geographically dispersed teams whose members do not allocate all of their time to a single team increasingly carry out knowledge-intensive work in multinational organizations. Taking an attention-based view of team design, we investigate the antecedents and consequences of member time allocation in a multi-level study of 2055 members of 285 teams in a large global corporation, using member survey data and independent executive ratings of team performance. We focus on two distinct dimensions of time allocation: the proportion of members' time that is allocated to the focal team and the number of other teams to which the members allocate time concurrently. At the individual level, we find that time allocation is influenced by members' levels of experience, rank, education, and leader role on the team, as predicted. At the team level, performance is higher for teams whose members allocate a greater proportion of their time to the focal team, but surprisingly, performance is also higher for teams whose members allocate time to a greater number of other teams concurrently. Furthermore, the effects of member time allocation on team performance are contingent on geographic dispersion: the advantages of allocating more time to the focal team are greater for more dispersed teams, whereas the advantages of allocating time to more other teams are greater for less dispersed teams. We discuss the implications for future research on new forms of teams as well as managerial practice, including how to manage geographically dispersed teams with the effects of member time allocation in mind. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cummings, JN; Haas, MR

Published Date

  • April 1, 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 316 - 341

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1099-1379

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0894-3796

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/job.777

Citation Source

  • Scopus