The newcomer absorption model: When are newcomers integrated into their teams' transactive memory systems?
Jones, Benjamin R.
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Teams often experience membership changes, requiring them to absorb newcomers into their teams. Transactive memory systems, a cornerstone of high performing teams, have to be rewired to incorporate team newcomers. Despite the drastic effects newcomers can have on team functioning, the extant literature is rooted in the newcomer perspective (e.g., Chen, 2005), and focuses almost exclusively on how newcomers become socialized into the team (e.g. Moreland & Levine, 2002). In contrast, I explore the team’s perspective on newcomers, examining how the team reacts to the newcomer. This study suggests the identity threat evoked by a newcomer determines whether or not a newcomer will be successfully absorbed into the transactive memory system of the recomposed team. This research integrates two competing theories, team creativity theory and social identity theory, to explain newcomer absorption and, more generally, the effects of newcomers on team functioning.