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Non-Profit Organisations and Team Building Essay

Literature Review of Feedback and Productivity in Non-Profit Organisations

Despite the common view of the positive impact of feedback on the employees’ and managers’ productivity, the amount of scholarly research to confirm this position is quite limited. Moreover, some of the studies show controversial results, such as Kluger and DeNisi’s 1996 meta-analysis. There is still, however, several significant theoretical works that outline the positive impact of feedback on the organization’s performance, as well as those that hint at the possible uses of feedback measures in non-profit organizations.

One of the first books to provide a structured view of the use of customer feedback to enhance organizational performance is A Complaint is a Gift: Using Customer Feedback as a Strategic Tool by Janelle Barlow and Claus Møller (1996). When viewed in comparison with other works of the time, the book provides a relatively view on the customers’ complaints. For instance, Barlow and Møller (1996) argue that complaining customers are the most loyal ones: they are more likely to repurchase and to promote the organization to their friends and family if their complaint is addressed positively (p. 41). Hence, the authors recommend giving the customers more opportunities to complain, for instance, by creating customer satisfaction forms, noting that it is important to address not just the existing customers, but also those who used to be a regular customer or those who were dissatisfied with their purchase or service (p. 29).

The same year, a rather critical review and analysis article was released by Kluger and DeNisi (1996). The authors of the article introduce the notion of feedback interventions, or FI, as a tool for managing the organizational performance, and provide a historical review and meta-analysis of the evidence for its efficiency and failure. For instance, they write: “A meta-analysis (607 effect sizes; 23,663 observations) suggests that FIs improved performance on average (d =.41) but that over 1/3 of the FIs decreased performance” (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996, p. 254). Through the meta-analysis of previous work on the subject, Kluger and DeNisi provide evidence that the effectiveness of the intervention largely depends on where the attention lies in the hierarchy: thus, the feedback should be directed at the tasks fulfilled rather than at an employee overall. This finding is useful as it could help to create more task-focused feedback forms to ensure their efficiency of the intervention.

Another review by Alvero, Bucklin, and Austin (2001) aimed to identify the applications and characteristics of performance feedback. The authors agree that feedback does not uniformly enhance performance (Alvero et al., 2001, p. 4). However, they also state that the consistency of feedback and hence its usefulness largely depend on the source of feedback, and the feedback obtained from customers proved to be consistent in its effectiveness, especially if it was obtained in the written form and analyzed with the use of graphs (Alvero et al., 2001, p. 18)

A relatively recent work by Wirtz, Tambyah, and Mattila (2010) also addressed the uses for customer feedback and outlined the need for formal channels, such as customer satisfaction surveys, to be put in place to collect it. The authors argued that many employees will refrain from passing negative feedback on to the managers (Wirtz et al., 2010, p. 364), and thus the introduction of customer feedback forms would ensure that more feedback is passed to the management for further analysis.

As for the review on the effectiveness of employee feedback on the performance of the management, most of the studies before 1998 did not differentiate the feedback by its direction, which is why the two sources on the topic that are especially useful are Craig and Gustafson’s 1998 assessment of using employee opinions to evaluate the leader’s integrity, as well as the 2002 study by Collins on the general uses and effects of employee feedback. Craig and Gustafson (1998) argue that the effectiveness of the managers largely depends on their integrity (p. 127-128) and devise an instrument to get a specific evaluation of the leader’s integrity from the employees’ point of view. It aims to assess specific behaviors of the leader and any moral or ethical problems created by their actions or policies that could undermine the work climate (Graig & Gustafson, 1998, p. 129), thus helping the leaders to address the issues and enhance the corporate climate. Collins (2002), on the other hand, estimated the effect of changing the leader’s behavior in accordance with the feedback from employees, stating that there is evidence that information gathered from the survey could be used to effect positive change in operations, manager attitudes, and behaviors, thus creating a more positive corporate climate and increasing employees’ motivation (p. 30).

Lastly, the use of customer feedback collection in non-profit organizations is justified in two separate works. Micheli and Kennerley (2005) argue that, due to the lack of financial measures to evaluate the efficiency of the NGO, it is necessary to address customer satisfaction when evaluating the organization’s performance and areas for improvement (p. 131). Jääskeläinen and Laihonen (2014), on the other hand, argue that the focus on customer and service-orientation have the potential to increase the responsiveness and effectiveness of the service system.

Literature Review of Team Building for Organisational Performance

The influence of team building on the organizational climate and performance has been widely studied, with most of the studies concluding that there is indeed a positive influence of teamwork practices and training on the overall productivity of the company.

For instance, a 1986 study by Buller and Bell was one of the first field experiments to investigate the effect of team building on the workers’ productivity. The researchers conducted an experiment that included 53 miners in an underground metal mine and divided them into groups to compare the effectiveness of team building and goal setting as practices for enhancing the effectiveness. The results of the study were not conclusive, however: despite the study achieved increased productivity in both groups of workers, it was difficult to ensure that the experimental and control groups were equivalent (Buller & Bell, 1986, p. 323). However, the authors explain that the analysis could not capture the long-term effects of the team-building intervention, which could have provided a more solid conclusion on the results.

Further studies, however, contributed to a clearer vision of the effects of team building. For instance, Bakker, Emmerik, and Euwema (2006) conducted a study of over 2000 officers to determine whether teamwork could increase or decrease the engagement of individual employees. The results of the study confirm that there is indeed a crossover of both positive and negative attitudes between the team and individual workers (Bakker et al., 2006, p. 464). In other words, this study proved that effective collaboration practices could increase the engagement of all participating employees, thus improving their work ethics, motivation, and organizational performance.

Another study from 2008 aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of teamwork training specifically. The study by Salas et al. (2008) studied the database of 93 effect sizes representing 2,650 teams in an attempt to determine the relationship between team training and team functioning. The results showed that there was indeed an improvement to the teamwork and organizational performance overall as a result of the interventions (Salas et al., 2008, 926-927).

A more specific study by Klein et al. (2009) aimed to examine the exact benefits brought by team building activities. The authors explained that the understanding of the effects of team building practices is of great importance to many leaders due to their extensive use in organizations all over the world: “Considering the vast sum of money directed toward the development of teams in organizations, it is important that practitioners (and researchers) gain a better understanding of the effectiveness and boundary conditions of team building” (Klein et al., 2009, p. 182). The results of the study showed that team building activities had a strong positive influence on all kinds of team results, particularly cognitive, affective, and process outcomes (Klein et al., 2009, p. 208).

The exploration of the specific methods and practices to promote team building has also been extensive. One of the most notable works in this particular area was the study by Cannon-Bowers, Salas, Blickensderfer, and Bowers (1998). Whereas most of the previous research focused on activities outside the company’s everyday functioning, such as team-building weekend activities, or corporate sports practices, the study by Cannon-Bowers et al. (1998) focused on workplace opportunities for developing teamwork. For instance, they investigate the effect of cross-training on team functioning to outline the theoretical basis for using cross-training and provide methodological improvements on the original method proposed by previous studies (Cannon-Bowers et al., 1998, p. 93). The study was focused on 40 three-person teams performing a simulated radar task. The results of the experiment proved the original hypothesis of the positive impact of cross-training on teamwork, team task outcomes, and all aspects of communication behavior (Cannon-Bowers et al., 1998, p. 99). Furthermore, the researchers found that effective task performance depended heavily on effective communication interaction (Cannon-Bowers et al., 1998, p. 99), thus proving the efficiency of teamwork development for enhancing workplace communication.

A study by Torrente, Salanova, Llorents, and Schaufeli (2012) also aimed to examine the role of teamwork both in maintaining a positive workplace climate by improving social relations and in increasing the organizational performance. The study was focused on 533 employees within 62 teams in 13 organizations, with data on team performance provided by the supervisors. The results allowed the authors to conclude that effective teamwork practices play a mediating role between the team’s social resources and performance (Torrente et al., 2012, p. 110). This means that team building activities can enhance both the employees’ perception of the social life of the company and their engagement.

Overall, one of the most comprehensive summaries of team building practices and theories is contained in Kozlowski and Bell’s 2001 article ‘Work Groups and Teams in Organizations’. In writing the work, the authors aimed to provide readers with a complete overview of the current theoretical and practical knowledge related to teamwork in the organizational setting. The authors examine the factors that affect team performance, such as team composition, size, and diversity, and explain the theories behind team formation and development. They include an evaluation of the various team leadership practices and schemes, thus offering an extensive range of information for all researchers and leaders in the field.


Alvero, A. M., Bucklin, B. R., & Austin, J. (2001). An objective review of the effectiveness and essential characteristics of performance feedback in organizational settings (1985-1998). Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 21(1), 3–29.

Bakker, A. B., Emmerik, H. V., & Euwema, M. C. (2006). Crossover of burnout and engagement in work teams. Work and Occupations, 33(4), 464-489.

Barlow, J., & Møller, C. (1996). A complaint is a gift: Using customer feedback as a strategic tool. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Buller, P. F., & Bell, C. H. (1986). Effects of team building and goal setting on productivity: A field experiment. Academy of Management Journal, 29(2), 305-328.

Cannon-Bowers, J. A., Salas, E., Blickensderfer, E., & Bowers, C. A. (1998). The impact of cross-training and workload on team functioning: A replication and extension of initial findings. Human Factors, 40(1), 92-101.

Collins, B. (2002). Meeting employee expectations: Exploring change through employee feedback. Journal of Environmental Health, 64(7), 30-33.

Craig, B. S., & Gustafson, S. B. (1998). Perceived leader integrity scale: An instrument for assessing employee perceptions of leader integrity. Leadership Quarterly, 9(2), 127-145.

Jääskeläinen, A., & Laihonen, H. (2014). Strategy framework for performance measurement in the public sector. Public Money & Management, 34(5), 355-362.

Klein, C., DiazGranados, D., Salas, E., Le, H., Burke, C. S., Lyons, R., & Goodwin, G. F. (2009). Does team building work? Small Group Research, 40(2), 181-222.

Kluger, A. N., & DeNisi, A. (1996). The effects of feedback interventions on performance: A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 254–284.

Kozlowski, S. W. J., & Bell, B. S. (2001). Work groups and teams in organizations. In W. C. Borman, D. R. Ilgen, & R. J. Klimoski (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Industrial and organizational psychology (vol. 12, pp. 333–375). London: Wiley.

Micheli, P., & Kennerley, M. (2005). Performance measurement frameworks in public and non-profit sectors. Production Planning & Control, 16(2),125-134.

Salas, E., DiazGranados, D., Klein, C., Burke, C. S., Stagl, K. C., Goodwin, G. F., & Halpin, S. M. (2008). Does team training improve team performance? A meta-analysis. Human Factors, 50(6), 903–933.

Torrente, P., Salanova, M., Llorens, S., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Teams make it work: How team work engagement mediates between social resources and performance in teams. Psicothema, 24(1), 106-112.

Wirtz, J., Tambyah, S. K., & Mattila, A. S. (2010). Organizational learning from customer feedback received by service employees: A social capital perspective. Journal of Service Management, 21(3), 363-387.

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