How to Induce an Error Management Climate: Experimental Evidence from Newly Formed Teams

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An organizational climate of error management is associated with favorable organizational outcomes, including firm success, innovation, and safety. But how can an error management climate be induced? The present research used newly formed teams in a controlled setting as a model and tested the effect of two brief interventions on team climate and performance. In three-person teams, 180 participants worked on two team tasks that required communication and coordination, under 1 of 3 experimental conditions. Two of these were designed to induce an error management climate either indirectly, via the communication of social norms, or more directly, via explicit encouragement of experimentation and learning from errors. The third condition served as an error avoidant comparison group. In line with predictions, the climate induction increased processes of error management climate as perceived by teams, which in turn positively affected objectively measured team performance (mediation effect). These results strongly suggest that team error management climate can indeed affect performance and is not merely a correlate of unknown third variables that were unmeasured in previous correlational research. From a practical perspective, this research provides guidance on how principles of social influence may be leveraged to induce an error management climate.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Number of pages13
ISSN0889-3268
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26.07.2022

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