Asymmetry in structural adaptation: The differential impact of centralizing versus decentralizing team decision-making structures

John R. Hollenbeck, Aleksander P.J. Ellis, Stephen E. Humphrey, Adela S. Garza, Daniel R. Ilgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations


This study tested predictions derived from Structural Adaptation Theory (SAT) on the longitudinal effects of centralizing and decentralizing decision-making structures in teams. Results from 93 four-person teams working on a command and control simulation generally supported SAT, documenting that it was more difficult for teams to adapt to a centralized decision-making structure after formerly working within a decentralized structure, than it was to adapt in the alternative direction. The negative effects of centralized shifts were mediated by efficiency and adaptability, in the sense that former decentralized teams experienced the negative aspects of centralization (lack of adaptability), but not the positive aspects (efficiency). The dangers of employing structural reconfiguration to solve certain problems in teams are discussed, especially if these changes are based upon expectations generalized from cross-sectional research that did not directly observe teams that experienced true structural change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011



  • Adaptation
  • Structure
  • Teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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