Time Matters in Team Performance: Effects of Member Familiarity, Entrainment, and Task Discontinuity on Speed and Quality

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We compared the speed and quality of performance for familiar, initially unfamiliar but continuing, and one-shot (single session) teams. We also proposed and observed entrainment effects for task time limits. Over the course of weekly sessions with changing tasks, continuing teams reached speed levels of the initially familiar teams, but the one-shot teams were consistently slower. Continuing teams also tended to have higher-quality output than the one-shot teams. There were no differences in how quickly each type of group entrained to time limits on the tasks. Entrainment was not robust to task discontinuity (Task A, then B). However, entrainment on repeated trials of a task persisted even when a different type of task “interrupted” those repeated trials (Task A, then B, then A again). Results compel a richer incorporation of time as a medium for complex task sequences, and time-based constructs as a feature of team membership in the study of group effectiveness.