Clarity and the Collective Mind: Applying an Input-Process-Output Perspective to Role Clarity and Shared Mental Models in Work Teams
Although previous research has emphasized a need for shared mental models in work teams, work on the antecedents of mental model similarity lacks a theoretical consensus. Role clarity poses a theoretically meaningful but hitherto unexplored connection with shared mental models that could address divergent perspectives on shared mental model antecedents using an input-process-output framework. The present study sought to test this idea by examining levels of mental model similarity under varying degrees of role clarity. Participants rated the similarity of task- and team-concepts while undergoing a series of low-fidelity networked simulations. This methodology was designed to test a likely antecedent of mental model similarity in a controlled environment, while also simulating core task features that may generalize to applied settings. The results suggested that role clarity positively affected team process, and that team process was positively related to task-related mental model similarity. Moreover, the results also suggested that role clarity, team process, and team-related mental model similarity increased over time, consistent with research in input-process-output relationships in a team environment.