Self-Organizing Into Winning Teams: Understanding the Mechanisms That Drive Successful Collaborations

Amy Wax*, Leslie A. DeChurch, Noshir S. Contractor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Contemporary teams are self-assembling with increasing frequency, meaning the component members are choosing to join forces with some degree of agency rather than being assigned to work with one another. However, the majority of the teams literature up until this point has focused on randomly assigned or staffed teams. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to investigate how people do form into teams and how people should form into teams. Specifically, we utilized a sample of digital traces from a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (N = 1,568) to evaluate the bases for and performance implications of team self-assembly. The results indicated that self-assembled teams form via three mechanisms: homophily, familiarity, and proximity. Moreover, results of the trace data analyses indicated that successful and unsuccessful teams were homogeneous in terms of different characteristics, and successful teams formed based on friendship more often than unsuccessful teams did.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-718
Number of pages54
JournalSmall Group Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • group formation/dissolution
  • social networks
  • team self-assembly
  • work groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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