Although the topic of employee engagement has gained increasing attention in recent years, little is known about engagement in team settings. In the current study, we examined individual engagement, emergent leadership, and team-level engagement in 31 teams of MBA students who attempted to solve a case problem dealing with corporate social responsibility. Each team member read the case individually prior to beginning the team process, which then occurred over a 45-minute period. A feature of this study is the use of diverse methodologies to measure our key constructs. Individual engagement was measured psychometrically through self-ratings at the end of the team process. Then for each team, an emergent leader and non-leader were identified based on ratings (primarily in terms of transformational leadership) from fellow teammates at the conclusion of the process. During the team process, members were assessed neurologically using electroencephalogram technology to determine their level of engagement. Our findings show that when individuals are highly engaged, there is a tendency for teammates to view them as leaders, rather than non-leaders. Further, emergent leadership is associated with a higher level of team-level engagement, measured neurologically, on the part of teammates when leaders are speaking. Conversely, less team-level engagement occurs when non-leaders speak. Our findings have implications not only for the engagement literature, but also for increasing organizational research that is attempting to incorporate neuroscience technology and methods.

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Waldman, David Andrew; Wang, Danni; Stikic, Maja; Berka, Chris; Pless, Nicola; Maak, Thomas

Emergent leadership and team engagement: An application of neuroscience technology and methods

Although the topic of employee engagement has gained increasing attention in recent years, little is known about engagement in team settings. In the current study, we examined individual engagement, emergent leadership, and team-level engagement in 31 teams of MBA students who attempted to solve a case problem dealing with corporate social responsibility. Each team member read the case individually prior to beginning the team process, which then occurred over a 45-minute period. A feature of this study is the use of diverse methodologies to measure our key constructs. Individual engagement was measured psychometrically through self-ratings at the end of the team process. Then for each team, an emergent leader and non-leader were identified based on ratings (primarily in terms of transformational leadership) from fellow teammates at the conclusion of the process. During the team process, members were assessed neurologically using electroencephalogram technology to determine their level of engagement. Our findings show that when individuals are highly engaged, there is a tendency for teammates to view them as leaders, rather than non-leaders. Further, emergent leadership is associated with a higher level of team-level engagement, measured neurologically, on the part of teammates when leaders are speaking. Conversely, less team-level engagement occurs when non-leaders speak. Our findings have implications not only for the engagement literature, but also for increasing organizational research that is attempting to incorporate neuroscience technology and methods.
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Emergent leadership and team engagement: An application of neuroscience technology and methods
Waldman, David Andrew; Wang, Danni; Stikic, Maja; Berka, Chris; Pless, Nicola; Maak, Thomas
2013 Academy of Management Annual Meeting
Buena Vista (United States of America), 09/08/2013 - 13/08/2013

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