Individual performance in management buy-out teams.
The purpose of the research was to study individual team members performances within a
context determined by the culture of the top MBO team and the organisational system. In order
to achieve this objective the study also investigates and describes the relevant business
factors/outcomes which determine the structure/culture of MBOs as a context for individual
team members to interpret. A review of MBO, team, team working, culture, climate and
motivation theory literature provided the basis for identifying the underlying psychological
variables relating to individual performance. These variables were incorporated into a model that
established a theoretical framework for generating hypotheses and describing individuals
performances in their MBO teams.
The research design was based on exploratory and explanatory studies. An exploratory study
(study one) based on semi-structured interviewing techniques explored the behavioural,
organisational and performance issues in five MBOs, as a basis for justifYing the psychological
variables used by individual team members to evaluate and interpret their context. Content
analysis was applied to the interview results in order to elicit the relevant themes. In relation to
the main explanatory study (study two) the methodology adopted was a postal questionnaire sent
to a selected sample of MBO team members. The questionnaire consisted of items that formed
scales which measured the psychological variables forming the research model. These measures
were tested for reliability using Cronbach's Alpha. Factor analysis of the questionnaire items
confirmed the latent (psychological) variables. The hypotheses formulated from the research
model were tested using correlation, partial correlation and regression analysis techniques.
Independent t-tests identified relationships between personal/organisational factors and the
psychological variables in the model.
Results from study one confirmed that the organisational-behavioural and performance issues in
MBOs were similar to those encountered in other types of organisations. This validated using the
organisational-behavioural literature to determine the psychological variables that relate to
individual performance in MBO teams. The results from the main study (study two) identified a
number of important factors relating to individuals performance in their MBO teams. It was
established from study one that MBO performance in relation to financial and organisational
objectives was instrumental in determining the behavioural and organisational context individual
team members interpret. Team members interpret their context by aligning teams expectations of
their behaviours with, preferences for working as collectivists and the perceptual effects of the
~emands, constraints, supports and opportunities of working in their organisations. This resulted
m team members feeling challenge, meaning, trust, support, freedom and reward from working
in their organisations. These feelings represented individuals psychological climates (or states)
which, operating principally through the dimensions of challenge and meaning, were found to be
instrumental in determining their performances in their organisations. Team members evaluation
of their expected behaviours in their teams and its alignment with their preferences for working
as collectivists and internalised values determined their motivation to affirm their collective selfconcepts
in their teams. The effects of team members organisational systems determined
behaviour-consequence connections which motivated them to affinn their task specific selfconcepts
in their teams.
The study highlighted limitations in contemponuy cognitive based theories (i.e. expectancy and
goal setting) by demonstrating the influence of context interpretation on personal performance.
Cognitive based theories fail to reflect individuals capacity to work flexibly (by coping) within a
dimension of collectivism-individualism and also ignore their motivation to express personal
identities and internalised values. In this respect cognitive based theories were seen to be
enshrined in hedonism thus failing to recognise that collectivist team members also behave in
accordance with their personal values (or self-concepts) or collective identities.