Twenty-first century organizations often rely on teams to enact their strategy and to enhance their flexibility in interacting with their external environment over time. Team composition, or the configuration of team member attributes, can influence team effectiveness and is an important consideration in the management of teams. To date, however, there is limited guidance on how seemingly smaller team composition decisions can contribute to organizational effectiveness and competitive advantage. We draw on strategic human resource management (HRM), HRM, and industrial and organizational psychology literatures to develop a conceptual framework for strategic team composition decisions. We describe how organizations use teams to enact their strategy (i.e., fit), and use adaptive teams and networks of teams to achieve fit in a dynamic environment (i.e., flexibility). Using the concepts of fit and flexibility, we develop four guiding principles for strategic team composition decisions.
Twenty-first century organizations heavily rely upon teams and collaborative work structures to meet the demands of a dynamic and hyper-competitive environment. Given that teams are ubiquitous, the effective management of teams continues to be of interest to researchers and practitioners alike (Mathieu, Maynard, Rapp, & Gilson, 2008). Team composition, or the configuration of team member attributes, is an enabling condition of effective teamwork and a powerful means of affecting team performance (Bell, 2007; Hackman, 1987; Wageman, Hackman, & Lehman, 2005). A wide body of literature, with a long history, indicates that aggregated and specific configurations of team member attributes are related to valuable team outcomes (Cattell, 1951; Haythorn, 1953). For example, team composition is empirically linked to shared cognition (Fisher, Bell, Dierdorff, & Belohlav, 2012), information sharing (Randall, Resick, & DeChurch, 2011), performance (Bell, 2007), and innovation (Richter, Hirst, Van Knippenberg, & Baer, 2012). While team experts acknowledge the importance of team composition and urge practitioners to consider team composition when making staffing decisions, there is limited understanding of how to translate team composition research into selection and placement decisions (Mohammed, Ferzandi, & Hamilton, 2010; Zaccaro & DiRosa, 2012). Because of this science-practice gap, researchers have begun to explicitly connect team composition theory to team staffing. As examples, Mathieu, Tannenbaum, Donsbach, and Alliger (2014) forwarded a review and integration of team composition models that outlined how individual- and team-based composition models combine to predict team effectiveness.