The Cognitive Underpinnings of Effective Teamwork: A Meta-Analysis

Leslie A. DeChurch*, Jessica R. Mesmer-Magnus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

446 Scopus citations


Major theories of team effectiveness position emergent collective cognitive processes as central drivers of team performance. We meta-analytically cumulated 231 correlations culled from 65 independent studies of team cognition and its relations to teamwork processes, motivational states, and performance outcomes. We examined both broad relationships among cognition, behavior, motivation, and performance, as well as 3 underpinnings of team cognition as potential moderators of these relationships. Findings reveal there is indeed a cognitive foundation to teamwork; team cognition has strong positive relationships to team behavioral process, motivational states, and team performance. Meta-analytic regressions further indicate that team cognition explains significant incremental variance in team performance after the effects of behavioral and motivational dynamics have been controlled. The nature of emergence, form of cognition, and content of cognition moderate relationships among cognition, process, and performance, as do task interdependence and team type. Taken together, these findings not only cumulate extant research on team cognition but also provide a new interpretation of the impact of underlying dimensions of cognition as a way to frame and extend future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-53
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • mental model
  • meta-analysis
  • shared cognition
  • team cognition
  • transactive memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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