Team Communication

1 2 3

Control Team size .03 -.01 .00 Team tenure -.15 -.10 -.08

Main effects Team proximity .04 .10 Challenge time pressure .45** .47** Hindrance time pressure -.27** -.25**

Moderation effects Team proximity ¥ challenge time pressure .21* Team proximity ¥ hindrance time pressure -.15†

Incremental R2 .20 .09 R2 .15 .35 .43 Adjusted R2 .02 .30 .38

** p < .01; * p < .05; † p < .10; Standardized regression coefficients are reported. One tailed for hypothesized effects and two tailed for other effects.


predictions that team proximity is more highly related to team communication (1) when challenge time pressure is high than when it is low (H1) and (2) when hindrance time pressure is low than when it is high (H2), we intro- duced the interaction term of team proximity and chal- lenge time pressure and the interaction term of team proximity and hindrance time pressure to the model at the same time. As shown in Table 2, the coefficient associ- ated with the interaction term of team proximity and challenge time pressure was significant (b = .21, p < .05). The coefficient associated with the interaction term of team proximity and hindrance time pressure was signifi- cant (b = -.15, p < .10). An inspection of the interaction plots (Figures 1 and 2) with simple slope tests (Aiken and West, 1991) revealed that only the slopes related to high challenge time pressure and low hindrance time pressure were significant. The plots show that teams communicate more effectively when their members are located proxi- mately when they experienced high challenge time pres- sure or low hindrance time pressure. The findings are

consistent with our hypotheses. As a result, both H1 and H2 were supported. Additionally, the results also suggest that bringing team members closer yields virtually no benefit on team communication in low challenge or high hindrance time pressure situations.


This paper addresses the tenet that team proximity improves team communication. Our findings demonstrate that effective communication in teams depends not only on physical distance (the ease of reach) but also on per- ceived time pressure, such that high challenge and low hindrance time pressure environments are conducive to team communication. Although team proximity is a well- researched topic, bringing time pressure into the picture enabled us to gather further insight into this area.

Our findings contribute to theory in two ways. First, this study showed that challenge and hindrance time pres- sure differently influences the benefits of team proximity toward team communication in a particular work context. We found that teams under high hindrance time pressure do not benefit from close proximity, given the natural tendency for premature cognitive closure and the use of avoidance coping tactics when problems surface. Simi- larly, teams experiencing low challenge time pressure do not gain from close proximity. This is an interesting outcome as it underscores the importance of challenge for teams to function effectively (e.g., Wageman, 2001). Thus, simply reducing physical distances is unlikely to promote communication if motivational or human factors are neglected (cf. King and Majchrzak, 1996).

Importantly, this study demonstrates the strength of the challenge–hindrance stressor framework in advancing theory and explaining inconsistencies. Past studies deter- mined time pressure by considering only its levels without distinguishing the type of time pressure. We suggest that this study might not have been able to uncover the moderating effects of time pressure if we had conceptualized time pressure in the conventional way. For example, if time pressure is measured in the general way, high time pressure may or may not moderate the proximity–communication relationship, depending on whether a team perceives time pressure as highly chal- lenging or highly hindering. In most cases, the outcomes would be masked because of the aggregated effects of challenge and hindrance time pressure. This would pos- sibly lead to insignificant conclusions. In addition, our results have highlighted the advantages of conceptualiz- ing time pressure as a two-dimensional work stress and also served to extend the framework introduced by

Low Challenge Time Pressure (p = n.s.)

High Challenge Time Pressure (p = .06)

Figure 1. Effects of Challenge Time Pressure on Interaction between Team Proximity and Team Communication

High Hindrance Time Pressure (p = n.s.)

Low Hindrance Time Pressure (p = .05)

Figure 2. Effects of Hindrance Time Pressure on Interaction between Team Proximity and Team Communication


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