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Title: Workplace context and its effect on individual competencies and performance in work and project teams
Authors: Rozhkov, Mikhail
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: Organizations require competent and high-level performance from the employees in project teams. However, our understanding of the factors that enable and support this high performance is far from complete. Much of the previous research on team performance focuses on the behaviour of team members, their individual competence, and the effect of organizational culture on team competency. However, the effects of organizational culture, organizational climate, manager behaviour, and team members' competencies on team performance have received relatively little attention. Meanwhile, institutions of higher education try to develop professional competencies among students, including effective teamwork. Indeed, the student workgroup context is similar to that of an industry work (project) team. Yet, most previous research on student workgroup performance focuses on the measurement of performance, rather than on the effect of team climate and social axioms on the competencies of the student groups, which ultimately determine their performance. The results of such research would not only help improve student performance, but also help institutions of higher learning create appropriate curricula to develop the competencies desired by industry. As such, this study aims to develop a research methodology that will help improve individual competencies and performance in a work team. Furthermore, this study attempts to better understand the important factors enabling and supporting the required competencies and performance of employees on a work team. Particular attention is paid to technological companies and student groups. This study develops a theoretical framework for building context-based competency models to guide the management of an individual team member's performance. The framework combines workplace characteristics, individual employee competencies, and performance. The present study set the following research objectives: (i) To establish a theoretical framework for the development of context-based competency models; (ii) To build context-based competency models for work teams and student groups; (iii) To explore the constructs of organizational culture, team climate, manager behaviour, and social axioms in the workplace context; (iv) To explore the relationships between work context and individual competencies; (v) To build quantitative models to predict competencies and performance in specific work contexts. This study used survey-based methodology in the form of electronic self-administered questionnaires to collect quantitative data. The study was conducted in three stages. In the first stage, respondents were requested to fill out questionnaires related to their organizational culture and team climates. Then, each employee was asked to fill out questionnaire to assess their manager's behaviour while managers performed a self-assessment. Finally, in the third stage of the study, a 360 degree assessment of employee competencies was conducted. Specifically, each employee was asked to evaluate themselves and their peers by responding to a series of questions pertaining to behavioural indicators of competencies. Furthermore, the manager of each team was asked to answer questions relating to the employees under their supervision. Managers and employees were separated during data collection.
Data collection among student groups took place in two stages. In the first stage, an email was sent to the subject coordinator of the Faculty of Engineering of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University with basic information about the study and asking for permission to invite students to participate. Once permission was obtained, the author of the current study went to a class, gave a short presentation about the study and invited students to participate. Students who agreed to participate listed their names and emails on the consent form. Then, in the second stage, the electronic questionnaires were emailed to participants. Each student received a unique link to a customized online questionnaire and was asked to respond to the questionnaire within a one week time frame. Data analysis included data coding, measurement, assessment and reliability analysis, hypothesis testing, and predictive model building. Data analysis was performed using Microsoft Office Excel 2010, R language for statistical analysis, and IBM SPSS Statistics 22. Descriptive statistics were computed to assess the overall tendencies of the collected data (including the mean, standard deviation, variance, skewness and kurtosis). Tests of normality for each variable were performed using Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Shapiro-Wilk tests. Construct validity analysis was performed via Principal Component Analysis (PCA), a technique which relates the measured variables to the latent constructs. Cronbach's alpha was used to perform a reliability analysis to assess internal consistency and the reliability of the constructs. Correlation was used to estimate the strength of each relationship studied. Furthermore, a PCA factor analysis was conducted to identify the factor structure of the data. The hypotheses regarding the effect of competencies on individual and group performance were tested using t-test statistics. Finally, linear regression and decision trees were used to build and test the predictive power of context-based competencies on both work team and student group performance. The findings of the present study contribute to the body of knowledge concerning competencies and team performance. The two studies reported below, which clarify both employee and student perspectives, permit a deeper understanding of the role of contextual factors in group work performance. Furthermore, the employee study integrated the concepts of organizational culture, team climate and manager behaviours into one model enabling the prediction of competencies and performance of team members. The results of the employee study suggest that team member performance is mainly affected by workplace contextual factors such as organizational culture, team climate and managerial practices. Indeed, effective team building and the strategic design of the workplace environment may enhance team member performance. The student groups study went beyond the traditional study of academic performance by considering the behaviour of students as analogous to the behaviour of team members in industry. In addition to the originality of this study in considering contextual factors, the present study investigated social axioms as predictors of student competencies and performance. It was assumed that the role of social axioms would be similar among students and among employees in work teams. The study found evidence that competencies and social axioms play an important role in group performance. The results generated from the study of student groups may be used in two ways. First, the models can be used to predict and improve the performance of student teams. Specifically, they can be used to predict the performance of the student teams working together over the course of a semester or to build the most effective teams based on the individual competencies of students. Further, they can also be used for assessing or developing the specific competencies required by industry. Second, the models can be used to enhance corporate performance. For example, they can be used for the purpose of predicting the effectiveness of team-based learning activities during training and development programmes. Finally, they can also be used to assess the influence of employees' social axioms on individual competencies.
Subjects: Teams in the workplace -- Research.
Teams in the workplace -- Management.
Project management.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: xix, 210 pages, 50 variously numbered pages : illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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