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J Health Soc Behav. 2004 Sep;45(3):322-35.

Status differences in cross-functional teams: effects on individual member participation, job satisfaction, and intent to quit.

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  • 1University of Michigan School of Public Health, 109 Observatory, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Cross-functional teams (CFTs) play an increasingly important role in health care. However, despite their potential, CFTs often fail to function effectively. This paper contributes to the literature in medical sociology by examining how the steep and well-defined hierarchy characteristic of the health occupations proves to be dysfunctional in the CFT setting. Previous research has shown that status differences among members of work teams negatively affect their functioning. Yet the specific mechanisms that connect variations in status to poor team functioning remain unclear. We hypothesize that it is the suppression of participation among low status team members that leads to poor CFT functioning. Our theoretical model integrates status characteristics theory and the value attainment theory of job satisfaction to link team members' statuses to participation in team decision-making and, ultimately, to their attitudes about the job. We use causal modeling to test our hypotheses. Our results indicate that relationships between health professionals defined in broader social contexts affect status, roles, and functions within CFTs, and these, in turn, affect the team's interpersonal processes. We suggest changes in organizational structure and in team leadership styles that might make CFTs more effective.

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