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How Asymmetrical Task Dependence And Task Interdependence Interact

Simon B. de Jong, P. Matthijs Bal

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether research and practice on task design and work teams could benefit from a more nuanced perspective on task (inter)dependencies among team members. Prior research often overlooked that task interdependence captures the average exchange of resources, while asymmetrical task dependence captures the inequalities within an individual's work relationships. To date, no study on work teams has combined the two aspects. Design/methodology/approach – Data were obtained from 262 individuals working in 67 work teams. Multilevel and bootstrapping analyses were used. Findings – Drawing from interdependence theory and power-dependence theory it was argued, and subsequently found, that asymmetrical task dependence interacts with task interdependence, and affects the job satisfaction of individuals and their affective commitment to their team. Practical implications – A key practical implication is that both asymmetrical task dependence and task interdependence should be taken into account when optimizing intra-team task dependencies, for instance when (re-)designing jobs or teams. Originality/value – This study contributes to research on asymmetrical task dependence within work teams, by investigating its interaction with task interdependence, its effects on the affective reactions of workers, and its effects on the individual level of analysis.