Learning from Many: Partner Exposure and Team Familiarity in Fluid Teams

Akşin, Z and Deo, S and Jónasson, J O and Ramdas, K (2021) Learning from Many: Partner Exposure and Team Familiarity in Fluid Teams. Management Science, 67 (2). pp. 854-874. ISSN 0025-1909

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In services where teams come together for short collaborations, managers are often advised to strive for high team familiarity so as to improve coordination and consequently, performance. However, inducing high team familiarity by keeping team membership intact can limit workers’ opportunities to acquire useful knowledge and alternative practices from exposure to a broader set of partners. We introduce an empirical measure for prior partner exposure and estimate its impact (along with that of team familiarity) on operational performance using data from the London Ambulance Service. Our analysis focuses on ambulance transports involving new paramedic recruits, where exogenous changes in team membership enable identification of the performance effect. Specifically, we investigate the impact of prior partner exposure on time spent during patient pickup at the scene and patient handover at the hospital. We find that the effect varies with the process characteristics. For the patient pickup process, which is less standardized, greater partner exposure directly improves performance. For the more standardized patient handover process, this beneficial effect is triggered beyond a threshold of sufficient individual experience. In addition, we find some evidence that this beneficial performance impact of prior partner exposure is amplified during periods of high workload, particularly for the patient handover process. Finally, a counterfactual analysis based on our estimates shows that a team formation strategy emphasizing partner exposure outperforms one that emphasizes team familiarity by about 9.2% in our empirical context.This paper was accepted by Jay Swaminathan, operations management.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Operations Management
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2021 15:22
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2023 20:21
URI: https://eprints.exchange.isb.edu/id/eprint/1524

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