A team comprises a group of people or other animals linked in a common purpose. Human teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks.
A group does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Naresh Jain (2009) claims:
Team members need to learn how to help one another, help other team members realize their true potential, and create an environment that allows everyone to go beyond his or her limitations. Teams can be broken down into from a huge team or one big group of people, even if these smaller secondary teams are temporary.
A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.
Thus teams of game players can form (and re-form) to practise their craft/sport. Transport logistics executives can select teams of horses, dogs or oxen for the purpose of conveying passengers or goods.
Theorists in business in the late 20th century popularized the concept of constructing teams. Differing opinions exist on the efficacy of this new management fad. Some see "team" as a four-letter word: overused and under-useful. Others see it as a panacea that finally realizes the human-relations movement's desire to integrate what that movement perceives as best for workers and as best for managers. Still others believe in the effectiveness of teams, but also see them as dangerous because of the potential for exploiting workers — in that team effectiveness can rely on peer pressure and peer surveillance. However, Hackman argued that team effectiveness should not be viewed only in terms of performance. While performance is an important outcome, a truly effective team will contribute to the personal well-being and adaptive growth of its members.
Compare the more structured/skilled concept of a crew, the advantages of formal and informal partnerships, or the well-defined - but time-limited - existence of task forces.
By Dean Hanley