ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (1): 84-94.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.00084

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The influence of team faultlines on team performance: Mediating effect of team transactive memory system

CHEN Shuai   

  1. (Business Administration College, Zhejiang University of Finance & Economics, Hangzhou 310018 China)
  • Received:2015-02-27 Published:2016-01-25 Online:2016-01-25
  • Contact: CHEN Shuai, E-mail:


 To improve team effectiveness and build up competitive advantage, team leader has to make clear of the dynamics of team composition first and make best use of it then. Research on the relationship between team faultlines and performance has grown popular over the last two decades. Nevertheless, cumulative findings of the effects of demographic faultlines have been inconsistent. I argued that these inconsistent findings were partly due to the neglect of the typology of faultlines. Further, there is little knowledge about the intermediate process between different types of faultlines and team performance. This study tended to address the puzzling issue of inconsistency by hypothesizing that social category faultlines might dampen team performance and information- based faultlines benefit team performance. In addition, transactive memory system was hypothesized to mediate the relationship between social category / information-based faultlines and team performance.

Data were collected using a questionnaire survey approach. Two different questionnaires were presented: a team manager questionnaire and a team member questionnaire. The team manager questionnaire was used to collect team performance data, whereas the team member questionnaire was used to collect member demographic information and transactive memory system data. I contacted and invited 293 workgroups to participate. By excluding team data that was lacking adequate observations, 222 teams remained with matched observations. By further eliminating samples with incomplete individual demographic information as required by the measure for faultlines (Thatcher et al., 2003), the effective sample size was 115 teams (including 115 team leaders and 667 team members).
Structural equation modeling (SEM) was conducted with the Amos 6.0 program to examine the hypotheses. First, a direct effect model was constructed to examine the relationship between social category / information-based faultlines and team performance. I found support for the positive effect of information-based faultlines on team performance. However, social category faultlines were found to be unrelated to team performance. Furthermore, I used a mediated model to examine the mediating effects of transactive memory system, the findings of which suggested that team transactive memory system mediated the relationship between information-based faultlines and team performance (the indirect effect was 0.12, and the 95% CIs obtained for transactive memory system did not include zero (0.010, 0.250)).
The study extended research on faultlines by theorizing how different faultline bases (social category and information-based faultlines) might have differential effects on the performance of workgroups. The empirical results led some support to the hypotheses, suggesting that the refinement of content of faultlines might help explain the divergence in faultline effect. Furthermore, the study had elaborated the mediating effects of team transactive memory system, uncovering the black box between different types of faultlines and team performance.

Key words: team faultlines, team performance, team transactive memory system, structural equation modeling