Mayo, A. T. (2022). Syncing Up: A Process Model of Emergent Interdependence in Dynamic Teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 00018392221096451.

Increasingly, organizational teams form quickly and change shape during their short lifespans, meaning they break from traditional definitions of “real” teams and experience instability in team membership and boundaries. While scholars have examined conditions that support effective teamwork in more-stable teams, we know little about how these dynamic teams can come to look like real teams that work interdependently rather than independently. My observations of and interviews with medical inpatient teams in a U.S. children’s hospital revealed a small subset of teams that succeeded at working interdependently within a core group (internally) and with a shifting set of peripheral contributors (externally). Brief periods of synchronous internal and external teamwork distinguished these emergently interdependent teams. To achieve these synchronous periods, core team members distributed their focus on internal team members and on peripheral members such as nurses, specialists, patients, and patients’ family members. Furthermore, core teams intertwined synchronous periods with cycles of external and internal coordination as team boundaries expanded and contracted. Such interdependence was associated with more-efficient work: faster morning rounds and, for patients, shorter hospital stays. Additionally, initial meetings among core team members set the stage for more-interdependent work. My findings contribute to dynamic teams research by illuminating the process of how teams can work interdependently as team boundaries expand and contract, to external activities research by suggesting that synchronous periods hold together previously documented cycles of separate internal and external activities, and to team launches research by extending work with more-stable teams to dynamic teams.