Harvard Business School Technology and Operations Management Unit, Research Paper No. 08-019
Much of the research on teamwork does not take into account the fact that most teams change constantly and new team members can significantly alter the group’s ability to perform. The authors studied the performance of 1,015 software development project teams at Wipro, a large software services firm headquartered in Bangalore, India. They measured changes in team composition as well as alterations in team structure — junior members being promoted to more senior positions, for instance. The authors found that familiarity — those members who had worked together on projects in the past — had a significant positive effect on performance, whereas individual experience did not. However, experience in a particular role, such as manager of a specific group, was positively correlated with increased performance.
Leaders should carefully consider how they create working groups by giving managers roles in which they have experience, and forming teams with members who have worked together in the past.