Space Exploration Illuminates the Next Frontier for Teams Research

Jessica R. Mesmer-Magnus*, Dorothy R. Carter, Raquel Asencio, Leslie A. DeChurch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Effective teamwork is beneficial for organizations on Earth, but is a sine qua non for teams venturing into outer space. The prospect of sending a team to Mars by the year 2030 invites organizational scientists to take stock of what we know and what we still need to know about teams. The team endeavoring to Mars will be multicultural and interdisciplinary, living and working in uncomfortable and dangerous conditions, and doing so in close collaboration with distant teams back on Earth. Tackling the teamwork challenges associated with a mission to Mars present an opportunity to rapidly accelerate the science of teams. In this conceptual review, we explore seven complexities of teams that are both important and understudied. Results of structured interviews with experts on human space exploration regarding the nature of teamwork in long-duration space exploration illuminate seven complexities, or key features of teams, in general, that serve as a catalyst for identifying, informing, and motivating future directions of inquiry about teams. These features, and the research they inspire, may enable organizations to build more effective teams on Earth and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-628
Number of pages34
JournalGroup and Organization Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • extreme teams
  • team decision making
  • team dynamics/processes
  • team effectiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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