The evolution of work team research since Hawthorne

John E. Mathieu, Mikhail A. Wolfson, Semin Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Since the Hawthorne studies of the 1920s and 1930s, there has been tremendous progress in the science and the practice of work group effectiveness. We chronicle the evolution of 3 schools of thought concerning work groups that spawned about the time of those studies. We highlight the different emphases of each perspective and how they eventually merged into an integrated view of teamwork. We also illustrate the disciplinary ebbs and flows of work group research over the past quarter century and how many different scholars from diverse institutions are currently contributing to the literature. We highlight the progress that has been made both in terms of scholarly insights and practical advances. We argue that the popular Input-Process-Outcome framework has facilitated progress in the field but has also become a limiting factor. We conclude that future advances will be associated with: (a) the advent of new theories, methodologies, and tools for modeling dynamic team properties; (b) a greater appreciation for, and sophisticated conceptions of, team task environments; and (c) conceptions of teams as entities in multilevel environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-321
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Dynamics
  • Tasks
  • Teams
  • Work groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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