This study examined the relationship between R&D team climate and team performance in a developing context, Korea. Given the fragmented results of existing studies in advanced countries, which explored largely the effects of individual dimensions of team climate on team performance, this study focused on the interaction effects among multiple dimensions of team climate. The interaction effects can produce seemingly contradictory or paradoxical bivariate associations between each climate dimension and team performance.
Both bivariate and multivariate analyses, using data from 80 R&D project teams in both government-sponsored research institutes and private R&D centres in Korea, revealed the following results.
1. Four dimensions of R&D team climate—autonomy, cohesiveness, change orientation, work pressure—were not positively associated with team performance. Rather, autonomy was found to have a significant negative relationship.
2. Interaction effects of each team climate dimension were partially borne out. When the change orientation or work pressure of a team was high, autonomy had a positive impact on team performance. Otherwise, autonomous team climate deteriorated performance of the team. However, interaction effects between cohesiveness and change orientation or work pressure were not found significant.
3. There appeared three clusters of R&D teams with similar climate characteristics. Teams with high autonomy but a low change orientation exhibited a lower level of performance than the other two clusters—one with low autonomy but high change orientation and work pressure, and the other with a medium level of autonomy and change orientation.
The results implied that a holistic team climate, as well as an individual aspect of climate, had a significant impact on team performance. A configuration approach considering interaction effects among various climate aspects would be beneficial for the development of high performing R&D teams.