Unpacking the Black box: How inter- and intra-team forces motivate team rationality

How can we ensure that teams can fulfill their full cognitive potential? This article investigates team rationality by examining when and why team formations facilitate rational decision-making. A pilot experiment (N = 78) found that within the context of a two-person beauty contest game, interacting teams behave more rationally and are more likely to attain full rationality than individuals. Two experiments (N = 855) investigated why interacting teams are more rational by investigating the motivation forces individual team members may experience. We extrapolate two motivating mechanisms that approximate the inter- and intrateam forces that team members may experience—interteam competitiveness and intrateam accountability—and impose them on members in a nominal team. Results show that together, these mechanisms synergistically motivate members in a nominal team to behave more rationally than if those who were only exposed to one or none of the two motivating forces. Furthermore, nominal teams where all members were exposed to both inter- and intrateam forces achieved rationality on par with those of interacting teams. The synergistic effects are robust for both virtual (Experiment 1) and face-to-face teams (Experiment 2). This suggests that the locus of team rationality resides within individual members of the team: Each of the three heads can be motivated so that, collectively, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The article concludes with some practical implications of our findings. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)