What is it about?

With our meta-analysis, we integrated the two research strands on effort gains and effort losses in teams and developed the Team member Effort Expenditure Model (TEEM) to explain when working in a team is a motivating or demotivating experience. We found that teamwork is neither motivating nor demotivating per se. In fact, the way in which teamwork is designed determines whether people show more or less effort during teamwork as compared to individual work.

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Why is it important?

The current research is the largest meta-analysis on effort gains and effort losses in teams so far, with 622 effect sizes (N = 320,632). It revealed that effort gains and effort losses appear to be multiply determined phenomena that have—yet only in part— shared causes. Effort gains as compared with effort losses can be attributable to different levels of the same moderators, but there appear to be moderators that are tied to only one part of the motivational spectrum during teamwork. We also found that people’s self-reports indicated effort gains when they had objectively shown such gains, whereas their self-reports did not indicate effort losses when they had shown such losses. Further, we observed that effort losses in teams were less pronounced in field studies as compared with laboratory studies, whereas there was no related difference for effort gains in teams. Effort losses in teams may thus pose less of a problem in field settings than it has been previously assumed.

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This page is a summary of: Together, everyone achieves more—or, less? An interdisciplinary meta-analysis on effort gains and losses in teams., Psychological Bulletin, May 2021, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/bul0000251.
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