Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Business Administration

First Advisor

Kenneth G. Brown

Second Advisor

Ning Li

First Committee Member

Eean R. Crawford

Second Committee Member

Amy L. Kristof-Brown

Third Committee Member

Sara L. Rynes


My dissertation challenges the dominant situational theory developed by Deutsch (1949) that conceptualizes cooperation and competition as situational factors equally shape all team members’ behaviors. Based on interdependence theory and social network techniques, I offer a configural theory that accounts for the complex, nonlinear patterns of within team cooperation and competition. Acknowledging the tension between team setting and conventional competition, I argue that within team competition is a restrained form of competition as its participants are bonded together by the team membership. Instead of competing for limited prizes or ranks that place individuals against each other, in typical team settings, team members compete for within team status. It has three dimensions, including demonstrating superiority over each team member on competence, participation and connection. I also argue that within team cooperation has three dimensions – sharing, helping and voicing that are directed towards each team member.

I developed and validated social network-based measures of within team cooperation and competition based on a student sample in Study 1. The theoretical factor structure was supported. I then tested the overall research model in a field sample in Study 2. Utilizing quadratic assignment procedures, I found that characteristics of each dyad, including dependence, similarity and liking, are able to influence the cooperative behaviors within the dyad. However, why within team competition is differentiated was less consistent with what I expected. The overall pattern of within team cooperation and competition, captured by three network indices, density (i.e., overall connectedness), centralization (i.e., tie distribution), and subgrouping (i.e., disconnection), did not predict team performance. Future research directions are discussed.


Social Network, Teams, Within team competition, Within team cooperation


viii, 96 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 77-96).


Copyright © 2015 Hailin Zhao