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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
Sports teach valuable lessons, October 20,
intramural sports during my undergraduate years in college
were some of my most enjoyable experiences as a student. As
a member of a small student group that participated in my
university’s intramural program, it was not uncommon during
some times of the semester to run between games of multiple
sports in a single evening. As the coordinator of
intramurals for the group, it was my responsibility to
ensure that we had enough players at each event and to
coordinate and sometimes “coach” our teams during practices.
skills and coaching requirements needed to build an
effective tennis team are quite different from those
required in volleyball or flag football. Softball, team
bowling, basketball, team racquetball, team golf, and team
track and field also required different coaching skills to
bring about the types of teamwork needed for success in the
golf and bowling require working with team members on their
individual games— the team score is the sum of the
individual scores and there is little interaction or
dependence among team members. In team racquetball and
tennis, players compete in singles and in doubles matches.
Singles players compete much like the bowlers, as
individuals, while doubles players have to learn to work
with a partner. Softball requires individual performance
when batting and catching balls, but requires teamwork when
relaying the ball around the field to other players.
Runners must also be aware of the actions of defensive
players and those of other runners. Relay racers in the
track and field competitions practice handing off the baton
to teammates as well as develop their own racing skills.
Basketball, football, and volleyball require players to
perform individually and as part of a team. Those sports
require considerable teamwork and mutual adjustment.
Organizations are defined as “social entities made up of two
or more people who work together interdependently to
accomplish common goals.” Organizational scientist, James
Thompson, identified three forms of interdependence—pooled,
sequential, and reciprocal. Pooled interdependence is
characteristic of golf and bowling teams. Group performance
is the “pooled” performances of the individuals on the
team. Relay teams in track and field events are examples of
sequential interdependence. Here, performance of one team
member does not begin until the performance of another team
member ends. Under sequential interdependence, time must be
spent practicing the transfer of responsibility from one
member to another. Reciprocal interdependence describes the
basketball team. In basketball, players continually act and
react to the actions of teammates and competitors. Play is
constant and dynamic and requires individual players to work
as a team in order to succeed. Baseball, football,
volleyball, and other sports are hybrid-combinations of
Thompson’s three pure forms.
teams provide organizational scientists and educators with
great examples for studying and analyzing teams, goals,
performance, and interdependence. The ways that
organizations are structured affects coordination,
communication, control, and teamwork processes. Thompson’s
forms of interdependence exist within all types of
organizations. Managers must identify the forms at play
within their organizations and formulate proper strategies
to maximize team and individual performance.
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