24-Karat or fool’s gold? Consequences of real team and co-acting group membership in healthcare organizations

Joanne Lyubovnikova, Michael A. West*, Jeremy F. Dawson, Matthew R. Carter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although theory on team membership is emerging, limited empirical attention has been paid to the effects of different types of team membership on outcomes. We propose that an important but overlooked distinction is that between membership of real teams and membership of co-acting groups, with the former being characterized by members who report that their teams have shared objectives, and structural interdependence and engage in team reflexivity. We hypothesize that real team membership will be associated with more positive individual- and organizational-level outcomes. These predictions were tested in the English National Health Service, using data from 62,733 respondents from 147 acute hospitals. The results revealed that individuals reporting the characteristics of real team membership, in comparison with those reporting the characteristics of co-acting group membership, witnessed fewer errors and incidents, experienced fewer work related injuries and illness, were less likely to be victims of violence and harassment, and were less likely to intend to leave their current employment. At the organizational level, hospitals with higher proportions of staff reporting the characteristics of real team membership had lower levels of patient mortality and sickness absence. The results suggest the need to clearly delineate real team membership in order to advance scientific understanding of the processes and outcomes of organizational teamwork.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-950
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number6
Early online date23 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in European journal of work and organizational psychology on 23/12/2014, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/1359432X.2014.992421


  • co-acting group membership
  • healthcare management
  • patient mortality
  • real team membership
  • sickness absence
  • teamwork


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