Examining the relationship between individual and team level communication network structure and task cohesion and team performance across time


It has been reported recently that athletes who (a) exchanged information with a larger proportion of their teammates (i.e., higher outdegree centrality) and (b) were a member of a team who, as a whole, engaged in a higher proportion of information exchange (i.e., higher network density) also perceived their team to be more task cohesive. The current study extended these findings to a sample of intact sport teams and tested the exchange/task cohesion relationship across time (i.e., prospective design). In addition, objective team performance was added as a second outcome variable as it has a putative association with information exchange network structure in other group settings. Controlling for early season perceptions of task cohesion, a multilevel regression analysis revealed that individual outdegree centrality significantly predicted midseason task cohesion perceptions (R2change = .26, p < .001). The overall variance accounted for in this multilevel model was captured at both the individual (41%) and team (19%) level. In the second analysis, a hierarchical regression controlling for early season team performance found that network density significantly predicted midseason team performance (R2change = .08, p < .001). These results highlight a pattern of relationships between information exchange and both task cohesion and team performance consistent with past theorizing. In terms of uniqueness, it also was found that specific aspects of information exchange (i.e., individual versus team level network structure) differed for each dependent variable, which has not been reported previously.

Acknowledgments: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada