The Frogs and the Pond: Multilevel Influences in Teams



The motivation literature historically focused on the individual, while largely neglecting to take into account contextual influences stemming from the social context within which individuals work (e.g., teams). In contrast, until recently, research in teams has tended to focused on the team as a whole, while ignoring individual-level processes and behavior in the context of the team. In this talk, I will review a program of multilevel research on motivation in and of teams. This research has focused on not only generalizing individual-level motivation theory to the team level, but also examining the complex cross-level interplay between individual and team motivation. Two important assumptions guiding this line of multilevel research are: (1) teams exert strong contextual influences on members’ personal motivation; and, in turn, (2) more motivated members contribute more positively to their team’s effectiveness. I will conclude the talk with discussion of two new avenues of research extending this prior work: (1) examination of how and when motivated members exert upward influences on their teams, and (2) the transfer of multilevel motivational processes across multiple teams.