Dealing with Team Change: Status Shocks and the Behaviors Leading to Status Stability




Although the inclusion of new members in teams can have profound consequences for team incumbents, existing research has predominately focused on the socialization of the new member or on changes to team outcomes. In our study, we develop a theory focused on how existing members react to the introduction to a new member by integrating the literature on status hierarchies with the team dynamics literature. We draw upon Social Exchange Theory to argue that team members mimic, ingratiate, and/or challenge new, high status members. We propose that the combination of two diffuse status cues (gender and physical attractiveness) leads existing members to choose the status stabilizing behaviors to engage in. In a study of 289 team members embedded in 60 teams, we found that existing members mimic high status newcomers, ingratiate towards high status newcomers who are also committed to the task, and challenge physically attractive females who are committed to the task, with the challenging behaviors exacerbated when existing members are themselves attractive.