What makes a team tick? How does teamwork really work?
Seeking answers to such questions is the career focus of Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Assistant Professor Anna Mayo. One of seven new members of Carey’s full-time faculty, Mayo conducts research on the elements of effective teamwork. She considers, for example, what makes some people work well in a group, especially when they are thrown together to tackle a problem without having clearly defined roles or the comfortable familiarity provided by longstanding relationships.
In the following Q&A, Mayo (PhD in Organizational Behavior and Theory, Carnegie Mellon University) touches on topics that include findings from her research, the reasons she chose to pursue this area of study, the lack of a spirit of unity in American society today, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected her work.
QUESTION: Your research has focused on the factors that contribute to effective teamwork. What drew you to that topic? Was there an experience from your life that might have inspired you to follow this path?
Anna Mayo: From a young age I started watching and playing, and fell in love with, team sports. I think at some level I gravitated toward wanting to understand how and why the whole was sometimes greater (and sometimes less!) than the sum of the parts. Later, studying psychology and economics in college, and then working for several years at an association that exposed me to the myriad ways in which our member organizations organized their work, both provided some scaffolding around that initial interest and pointed me to the study of organizational teams.