Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 20, Iss. 4, October, 2016, pp. 537-563
@2016 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


A Cusp Catastrophe Model for Team Learning, Team Potency and Team Culture

Teresa Rebelo, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Dimitrios Stamovlasis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Paulo Renato Lourenco, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Isabel Dimas, GOVCOPP, ESTGA, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Margarida Pinheiro, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Abstract: This paper examines team learning behaviors within a nonlinear dynamical system (NDS) perspective. The present research is based on a sample of 36 project workgroups, where data were collected at two moments of their life cycle, with visual analogue scales. Using both the least squares method and maximum likelihood, it proposes a cusp catastrophe model for explaining team learning. The cusp model is superior to its linear alternatives and implements team culture as the asymmetry variable and team potency as bifurcation. The findings of cusp structure in the data support the existence of discontinuous shifts in learning behavior and furthermore a proposition that the punctuated equilibrium model (PEM) might be a reasonable model for describing group functioning, since it encompasses such sudden changes between distinct stages (attractors). A discussion on small group research is also provided by highlighting the nonlinear dynamics of team processes, along with further implications for research and practice.

Keywords: group potency, group culture, team learning, group dynamics, cusp catastrophe, bifurcation