Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Pilar Pazos-Lago (

Committee Member

Andrew Collins

Committee Member

Ana Maria Canto


The development of team cognition is crucial for fostering high-performing teams. In cognitive-intensive fields like engineering, effective communication serves as a primary precursor to team knowledge development, enabling group members to effectively retrieve and utilize each other's expertise. Despite the critical role of communication, there is a lack of empirical research examining how conflict situations, which are critical emerging factors inherent to teamwork, interact with communication processes to constrain team knowledge development and utilization. This study, rooted in information processing theory, investigates how emerging conflict shapes multilevel team knowledge structures by interacting with communication processes in engineering project teams. Prior approaches focused on the team level of analysis fail to capture the natural variability in team interactions that occur at lower levels. The proposed mathematical approach examines dyadic structures within teams as the building blocks by employing multivariate matrices to capture the variables of interest for each dyad within a team. Findings indicated that certain conflict profiles interacted with intragroup communication to affect the effective use of transactive memory systems. Affective conflict combined with high levels of task-related disagreements is most dysfunctional to teams but less so when members share similar perspectives about task execution. This research sheds light on how naturally arising cognitive and affective conflicts impact knowledge-based processes. These results can inform evidence-based interventions to prevent and mitigate dysfunctional conflict and improve knowledge retrieval. Additionally, it offers new insights into team communication and cognition by presenting a mathematical matrix-based framework to examine teams at the dyadic level.


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