What is interdependence? What causes it

Together we are strong

Team members exchange their knowledge and support each other especially when they pursue common goals and there is little competition between them. Here you can find out why this is the case and how cooperation in a team can be promoted.

Download:knowledge.blitz (41)

Today, many tasks are solved by teams in which people with different expertise combine their knowledge in order to show a high level of performance. Sometimes team members are from each other dependent. For example, employees in air traffic exchange information with others, members of an orchestra coordinate with one another, or employees in production teams work together to complete tasks. The collaboration can be characterized by cooperation (i.e. mutual support) or competition.

Mutual dependency in the team

The following forms of mutual dependency (interdependence) can be distinguished in the team:

Positive interdependence:

  • Your own goals can only be achieved if the others also achieve their goal
  • H. by working together, the goals of each team member can be achieved

Negative interdependence:

  • own goals can only be achieved at the expense of the goals of others
  • H. Team members are in competition with each other and (think) achieve their goals when others fail to achieve them

No interdependence:

  • everyone can achieve his / her goals independently of the others
  • H. Cooperation is too time-consuming or task sharing is impossible

Particularly positive interdependence is associated with high performance (willingness) in the team.

Why positive interdependence matters

A positive interdependence promotes that Cooperation within a team. Team members are more willing to get involved in their work to make an effort and they often use more effective ones Strategiesbecause they spend longer looking for solutions to tasks and focus less on comparing their behavior with that of other team members. Knowledge is increased among each other exchanged. In addition support People treat each other more strongly, treat each other with more respect and develop more positive ones Labor relations in the team. This can be beneficial to the psychological health of team members and that trust Strengthen your own abilities by making people appreciate their skills in the team. All of these effects can be used to Team effort contribute.

How can positive interdependence be encouraged?

In order to create a climate of positive interdependence in a team, it is often not just a (formal) membership in a team that is sufficient. For this it is especially necessary tasks and common aims to design in such a way that the contribution of each person working is significant, team members can also contribute their part to the task and, if necessary, subtasks are clearly divided. Another condition for cooperation is social Skills of team members and the individual goalsthat pursue individuals and are more or less compatible with common goals. In addition, the development is more common Strategies, e.g. how knowledge is exchanged among each other, a prerequisite for successful cooperation.

Design tasks cooperatively:

  • B. clear division of tasks and allocation of individual responsibilities

Support social skills:

  • B. via trainings and individual feedback from team leaders

Promote learning goals among team members:

  • B. Promoting the individual goal of learning and improving oneself (instead of doing better than others)

Developing strategies in a team:

  • B. Regular reflection on common strategies to improve collaboration

Conclusion: Promote positive interdependence ?!

When goals can only be achieved through joint effort, this promotes cooperation and team performance. However, there are also situations in which positive interdependence cannot or should not be created, e.g. when there is competition for a position or task for which only a Person can succeed. In such cases, the most constructive competition possible can be supported by giving everyone involved a certain chance of winning and defining clear, fair processes and success criteria.

Johnson, D. W. (2003). Social interdependence: Interrelationships among theory, research, and practice. American Psychologist, 58, 934-945.

Quote as: Scholl, A. (2011). Together we are strong. knowledge.blitz (41). https://wissensdialoge.de/gemeinsam_sind_wir_stark