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Biases and Heuristics in Team Member Selection Decisions

Pinto, Jonathan (2008) Biases and Heuristics in Team Member Selection Decisions. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although team composition as an antecedent to team performance has been studied extensively, team composition as a dependent variable has been relatively neglected. Recent studies on team member selection assume that a group or an organization is conducting the process and propose elaborate models that include numerous factors along two dimensions: taskwork and teamwork. However, when individual decision makers are forming teams, they adopt a simpler heuristic approach that is based on their relational ties to potential team members. The extent of this relational bias, i.e., the proportion of the team to which they have prior relational ties, is explored in this dissertation. In cases where the decision maker was the team leader, the relational bias was 50% for top-flight professional soccer players choosing their ideal teammates, and 34% for National Football League (NFL) head coaches choosing their coaching staff members. Even in cases where the decision maker was only the selector and not the team leader, the relational bias in the soccer player dataset was 31%. Whether the decision maker was a leader or only a selector was a statistically significant predictor of relational bias. These findings not only support the traditional leadership theories that the leader-member relationship is a central dimension of leadership, but also suggest that relational ties might be important even at the team formation stage.The NFL head coaches dataset provides evidence that team leaders' role interdependence is a statistically significant predictor of relational bias not only to the team as a whole, but also to the part of the team structure on which the leaders are more dependent (termed backing-up subunit). Content analysis of soccer players' reports of their selections indicates that taskwork-related rationales were primary (58.2% of the total), followed by tie-related rationales (23%) and teamwork-related rationales (18.8%). Further, team spirit, a subcategory of teamwork-related rationales, comprised only 4.1% of the total rationales provided. The results suggest that when individual decision makers are forming teams, they utilize a three-dimensional (rather than two-dimensional) approach that includes consideration of factors related to taskwork, teamwork, and the decision makers' ties to potential team members.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPrescott, John Eprescott@katz.pitt.eduPRESCOTT
Committee MemberRousseau, Denise
Committee MemberPil, Frits Kfritspil@katz.pitt.eduFRITSPIL
Committee MemberFlorkowski, Gary Wgwf@katz.pitt.eduGWF
Committee MemberMoreland, Richard Lcslewis@pitt.eduCSLEWIS
Date: 29 September 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 9 June 2008
Approval Date: 29 September 2008
Submission Date: 14 July 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: heuristics; sports; team formation; decision making; leadership; relational bias
Other ID:, etd-07142008-090949
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:51
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:45


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