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Team Dynamics and the Marshmallow Challenge: studying team performance and personal satisfaction with a focus on verbal interactions


  • Hanna Daoudy
  • Michel Verstraeten


The present study analyses the impacts of verbal interactions as well as the team’s international diversity on team performance and on team members’ satisfaction during a game called the Marshmallow Challenge. Ninety-one students from a business school participated in the game, forming twenty-three teams. The purpose was to construct the highest freestanding structure with 20 sticks of spaghettis and a marshmallow on top. Participants only had eighteen minutes to achieve this goal. The variables were measured through observations and through individual questionnaires. Results show that verbal interactions played a critical role on both performance and satisfaction. Teams where some of the members spoke more than others were more likely to achieve higher performance. Members in these teams were also more satisfied regarding the team outcome. Furthermore, open discussions in teams decreased the members’ communication process satisfaction. Finally interesting results appeared in international teams. For instance, the average level of anger and frustration was highest in these teams. This in turn had an impact on personal satisfaction. More specifically, the team’s international diversity affected negatively the members’ communication process satisfaction. Taken together, these findings show that communication strongly affected performance and satisfaction and it significantly influenced members’ willingness to remain in the same team. Despite these observations, the current study presents some limitations that will be discussed and that should be taken into account for further research.

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  • Hanna Daoudy & Michel Verstraeten, 2013. "Team Dynamics and the Marshmallow Challenge: studying team performance and personal satisfaction with a focus on verbal interactions," Working Papers CEB 13-006, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/138387

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    team performance; team members’ satisfaction; verbal interactions;

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