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Faculty & Research


A Resource-Based View on Individual Absorption in the Context of Multiple Team Memberships

Journal Article
Knowledge work - frequently characterized as nonroutine and complex - requires individuals to be deeply engrossed with or “absorbed” in their work. Notwithstanding, organizations tend to put knowledge workers in multiple teams, undermining their ability to achieve the level of absorption required to realize their full potential. The authors examine how knowledge workers who are operating in multiple team contexts navigate competing demands on their time on a daily basis. Based on conservation of resources theory, the authors posit that the time devoted to the focal team - that is, the primary team in which knowledge workers are most actively involved - fosters absorption. However, this positive relationship is moderated by the number of different team contexts and problem-solving demands that knowledge workers experience daily, as together, these contextual conditions block optimal resource utilization. To test the authors' hypotheses, they apply hierarchical linear modelling to experience-sampling data from 140 knowledge workers surveyed over 10 consecutive working days. Their findings support the hypothesized model, suggesting that daily involvement in multiple team contexts hinders full absorption, especially if daily problem-solving demands are high. Their insights emphasize the importance of the role and potential cost of multiple team membership (MTM) for understanding knowledge workers’ optimal functioning.

Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour