The role of political skill in advancing teamwork skill development in temporary teams

Kauppila, Olli-Pekka, Einola, Katja and Butler, Christina (2023) The role of political skill in advancing teamwork skill development in temporary teams. In: 83rd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM 2023) : Putting the Worker Front and Center; 04-08 Aug 2023, Boston, U.S..


As temporary teams have become common practice in knowledge-intensive work settings, the skills of individuals to operate effectively in any teams is increasingly important for both individual and team performance. While learning-by-doing is an obvious way of learning skills for teamwork, we know very little about factors facilitating teamwork learning. We integrate insights from political perspectives on organizations into the teamwork literature to suggest that by helping to make sense of socially complex dynamics and to reflect on their experiences, political skill is a key driver of teamwork learning. In addition, we theorize that politically skilled individuals have higher capacity to turn common teamwork-related challenges—namely, team task conflict and a lack of team leader direction—into learning experiences which they take with them to their next team. The article presents two studies to test our predictions. Study 1 analyzed a sample of 259 business school students in 77 project teams to investigate our core hypothesis that political skill advances the development of teamwork learning teamwork skills. Study 2 employed nested data collected from 110 junior investment bankers and their experiences in 434 teamwork projects to retest our core hypothesis with individuals operating across multiple team-based projects and extend our investigation to the moderating effects of political skill. We contribute to the present understanding of teamwork, individual learning, and political skill to show that highly politically skilled individuals are better able to turn temporary teams into learning experiences.

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