Time and Transition in Work Teams

Time and Transition in Work Teams

During the coming three weeks, we will retrospectively follow (and discuss) the development process of the paper “Time and Transition in Work Teams: Toward a New Model of Group Development”. The paper, written already in 1988 by Connie Gersick, is somewhat a classic in our field and cited more than 1 700 times.

For the upcoming meeting, we will start by reading the actual paper. The week thereafter, we will read the first section of a book chapter that focuses on the development process, and the week after that we will read the final part of the chapter. The reflections in the book are partly written by Gersick herself, and partly by other authors.


This study of the complete life-spans of eight naturally-occurring teams began with the unexpected finding that several project groups, studied for another purpose, did not accomplish their work by progressing gradually through a universal series of stages, as traditional group development models would predict. Instead, teams progressed in a pattern of “punctuated equilibrium,” through alternating inertia and revolution in the behaviors and themes through which they approached their work. The findings also suggested that groups’ progress was triggered more by members’ awareness of time and deadlines than by completion of an absolute amount of work in a specific developmental stage. The paper proposes a new model of group development that encompasses the timing and mechanisms of change as well as groups’ dynamic relations with their contexts. Implications for theory, research, and practice are drawn.

The full paper can be downloaded here.