Perspectives: Teams wont solve this problem

Leslie A. Dechurch, Stephen J. Zaccaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Objective: We link the problem of complex sociotechnical systems to a new unit-of-analysis and fruitful developing area of applied research, the multiteam system. Background: Teams are the dominant entity and theoretical lens being applied to understanding the performance of complex sociotechnical systems. We submit that such problems cannot be solved through the teams lens because complex sociotechnical systems exhibit features such as mixed-motive goal structures and complex, layered social identities that do not meet the definitional requirements of a team. Method: We present key findings from multiteam systems research and review the studies contained in the special issue on the basis of the focal constructs and unit of analysis. Results: Although progress is being made on understanding key constructs essential to understanding complex sociotechnical systems, the unit of analysis needs to be shifted upward from the team level to the system level. Conclusion: Progress on understanding the inner workings and leverage points for the success of complex sociotechnical systems requires a fundamental shift in the unit of analysis toward understanding the macrodynamics of larger systems of teams. Application: The multiteam system perspective offers a useful theoretical lens for future research on and tool development (e.g., training, information technology) for improving the functioning of complex sociotechnical systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-334
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010


  • effort/motivation
  • emergence
  • multiteam system
  • organizational behavior/design
  • psychological states
  • sociotechnical systems
  • team
  • team training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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