Advancing Our Understanding of Team Motivation - Integrating Conceptual Approaches and Content Areas

Guihyun Grace PARK, Singapore Management University
M. Spitzmuller
R. P. DeShon


Although research on team motivation has been one of the fastest growing research domains in organizational science, progress in this domain has been hampered by a lack of integrative reviews. Thus, we develop a theoretical framework in this article to summarize and discuss different conceptual approaches to team motivation for the following six content areas: team design, team needs, team goals, team self-regulation, team efficacy, and team affect. Our framework organizes previous research according to two dimensions. First, we assess the degree of interdependence between team members’ motivational states, differentiating between models that conceptualize team motivation as functionally equivalent to individual level motivation and models that conceptualize team motivation as a truly collective phenomenon. Second, we assess the extent to which research conceptualizes team motivation as a dynamic phenomenon that evolves over time, with static models of team motivation and dynamic models of team motivation demarcating the opposite ends of this continuum. With this framework, we show that previous research on team motivation has overemphasized conceptual similarities between motivation constructs at the individual and team levels of analysis. We address this shortcoming by developing a theory of interdependent regulatory dynamics. This theory emphasizes the interdependent and dynamic nature of team motivation. It depicts the processes in which team members decide how to allocate their efforts and resources between individual goals and team goals, and it identifies the multiple pathways through which teams coordinate and regulate their collective efforts over time.