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|The Influence of Team Psychological Safety on Team Knowledge Creation: A
Comparative Study between Thai, French and American Engineering Teams
|team psychological safety
|This research evaluates the impact of team psychological safety on the creation of team knowledge. When teams engage in team learning and display the associated learning behaviors (seeking feedback, asking for help, innovative behavior, boundary spanning and speaking up about concerns or mistakes), their interactions contribute to improved task performance. Very little research evaluates if these behaviors, rooted in the level of psychological safety within the team, also result in the creation of knowledge at the team level, either related to the task or related to the team itself. The proposed model is developed and evaluated through a mixed method research design around a team problem solving experiment. Concept mapping and questionnaires are used as elicitation methods for the task- and team-related team mental models respectively and enhanced with the results of one-on-one and team interviews. Evaluations at different intervals evaluate the changes over time of the knowledge created in the team. The model is evaluated in teams from three different cultural backgrounds (USA, France and Thailand), to assess if culture influences team psychological safety, and to verify its moderating effect on team knowledge creation.
The research findings confirm the validity of the proposed research model for teams from the USA and France, in particular the hypotheses that both team psychological safety and team learning impact the creation of team-related and task-related team knowledge. The model is not confirmed for teams from Thailand and the research finds that team psychological safety is influenced by cultural components. A number of possible explanations for the case of teams from Thailand are proposed.
This research has theoretical and practical benefits. The research is unique in that team learning behaviors are evaluated through the codification of team interactions, rather than from team members’ own assessments. It also measures the impact of team learning not just on the task, but evaluates team knowledge in a dynamic way by analyzing the team- and task-related mental models over a period of time. From a practical point of view, the research demonstrates that developing team psychological safety and creating team learning opportunities brings benefits in the development of the team’s knowledge even if they may not impact the current task. The research also highlights that this may not be generalizable across all cultures.
This research was done with engineering teams from \a single organization. Future research could validate the model in other teams in multiple organizations. For the teams from Thailand in this research, both the proposed research model and the original model on which it was based are not validated. This finding should be confirmed or further evaluated with other teams in Thailand or other cultures in Asia.
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