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Recognizing and Utilizing Expertise in Work Groups: A Status Characteristics Perspective

J. Stuart Bunderson
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 48, No. 4 (Dec., 2003), pp. 557-591
DOI: 10.2307/3556637
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3556637
Page Count: 35
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Recognizing and Utilizing Expertise in Work Groups: A Status Characteristics Perspective
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Abstract

This paper develops and tests a theory of expertise recognition and utilization in groups that focuses on the critical role of members' status cues as indicators of task expertise. The theory draws on status characteristics theory and past research on groups to propose that while attributions of expertise in work groups will be informed by both specific (i.e., task-relevant) and diffuse (i.e., social category) status cues, the strength of this association will be contingent on the type of cue as well as on characteristics of the group context. So, whereas specific status cues will better predict attributions of expertise in decentralized, longer-tenured groups, diffuse status cues will better predict attributions of expertise in centralized, shorter-tenured groups. Further, attributions of expertise should fully mediate the relationship between members' status cues and intragroup influence. A multilevel test of these hypotheses in a sample of self-managed production teams in a Fortune 100 high-technology firm provides strong support. Group-level analyses confirm that the alignment of intragroup influence with specific status cues is positively associated with group performance.

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