Relieving the Pressure: Team Familiarity Attenuates External Conformity Pressure on Team Member Decisions. By: Ferguson, Amanda J; Downes, Patrick E; Brymer, Rhett Andrew; Hayman, Marilla G. and Stoverink, Adam C. 2024. Journal of Management. Vol. 50 Issue 5, p1836-1864.

Decisions in organizations are often made by individuals acting as members or representatives of teams, and such decisions may be unduly influenced by the preferences of people outside their teams. In these instances of external conformity pressure, we argue that the familiarity of the decision maker’s team provides social belonging and affiliation that alleviates this pressure. Whereas previous research has argued that social belonging from familiarity may drive within-group conformity when pressure comes from other team members (e.g., groupthink), we highlight that familiarity can instead help team members withstand pressure to conform when this pressure comes from outsiders. Moreover, we expect team familiarity to be especially important in high-stakes conditions, in which there are significant consequences associated with decisions. We examine our predictions in an archival sample of officiating crews making decisions about penalty calls during National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) American football games and in a laboratory experiment of team members making decisions about the quality of someone else’s work product. Findings from these studies suggest that: (1) members of familiar teams are less likely to conform to the preferences of outsiders than those in unfamiliar teams; (2) team familiarity is particularly important when making high-stakes decisions; and (3) team familiarity gives team members a greater sense of belonging, which enables them to better withstand external conformity pressure.