Does team composition based on cognitive styles influence the process and outcome?

Professor Karlien Vanderheyden, post-doctoral research associate Eva Cools and researcher Ben Lommelen finished a study on cognitive styles in teams, which was funded by the Academic Research Fund. This project investigated the effect of cognitive diversity on team processes and outcomes through two successive studies with experimental team tasks involving 57 teams of management students.

Team composition in each of the studies was manipulated on the basis of students’ cognitive profiles, as measured with the Cognitive Style Indicator (CoSI; Eva Cools & Herman Van den Broeck, 2007), leading to homogeneously composed teams, semi-homogeneous teams, and heterogeneous teams.

Contrary to previous research, the time needed to complete the task was longer in homogeneous teams than in semi-homogeneous and heterogeneous teams, and team composition had no effect on performance or satisfaction. Apart from heterogeneous teams showing to be more task oriented, there seemed to be no relationship between team composition and team process variables, including perceived relational orientation, and groupthink. However, in the different homogeneous teams, the perception of individuals with different cognitive styles did vary on these dimensions. Cognitive styles were also significantly related to preferences for certain task types.

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