Date of Award

Spring 1995

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Robert M. McIntyre

Committee Member

Glynn D. Coates

Committee Member

Debra A. Major

Committee Member

Anna Marie Valerio


The purpose of this research was to demonstrate an approach to developing a system for classifying teams. A classification system is important for formulating theories, generating hypotheses, and especially as an aid in generalizing results from one setting to another. Although a number of classifications can be found in the team literature, each was developed in a rational rather than an empirical manner. As an alternative, an empirically derived classification system based on objective, empirical data was considered an improvement. The development of this type of system was the objective of the present study.

The Sundstrom and Altman (1989) classification system formed the basis for the team classification system in the present study. The Sundstrom and Altman system is based on a theoretical framework, includes a distinct set of variables drawn from its underlying theory, is applicable to a wide variety of teams and work groups, and has relevance for both research and practical purposes. The Sundstrom and Altman taxonomy suggests that there are four classes of work groups, based on the characteristics of integration and differentiation, and that each will display different requirements for environmental support. Hypotheses pertaining to the expected categories were developed and tested.

Previous team research has identified seven team behavioral attributes that are assumed to underlie team performance in diverse settings. In the present study, information on these attributes was collected from a variety of teams in order to delineate how teams in the Sundstrom and Altman classification system differ with respect to team behavior.

An interview was developed and used to collect information on 91 teams. Cluster analysis procedures, specifically, a method referred to as Ward's minimum variance method, was used to develop the clusters. The study incorporated a modified sequential validation design to evaluate the resulting team classification system.

The results indicated six clusters or "types" of teams that shared many of the characteristics as the four classes identified in the Sundstrom and Altman system. Differences among clusters were identified in two areas of environmental demands, specifically, interaction demands and role differentiation demands. Differences among clusters also were indicated in the behavioral dimension of monitoring.

Practical and theoretical implications of the findings and future research suggestions are discussed.


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