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Team dynamics: entrepreneurship versus music. What an entrepreneurial team can learn

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Abstract

Literature regarding entrepreneurial teams has risen the last decade (Fayolle et al., 2014). Researchers study entrepreneurial teams as a part of a big company, even though an entrepreneurial team usually does not evolve under the context of a large and stable organization. It mostly works and flourish under circumstances of instability, lack of income, uncertainty, innovation, creativity, problem solving. A music band works under the same circumstances.Music bands already have been used as an example in researching how organizations can be more innovative and creative (Kamoche;2003) and some researchers claim that team dynamics of an early stage entrepreneurial team resembles the dynamics of a music band. Using a qualitative approach, entrepreneurial teams and music bands of 3-5 members, where interviewed in order to shed light on team dynamics and team spirit. This empirical research attempts to identify the differences between the two and point out positive aspects of music bands’ team spirit. The results extract six variables, ‘discussion with the team’, ‘give space to everyone’, ‘practice’, ‘perform as a unity’, ‘trust’, ‘everyone acts as a composer/leader’ which seems to enhance band’s cohesion and performance, as also can help entrepreneurial teams tackle their team dynamics in a way that provides a more efficient outcome. Key words: team dynamics, entrepreneurial teams, music bands, interdisciplinary, startups, entrepreneurship, cohesion
Team dynamics: entrepreneurship versus music. What an entrepreneurial team can learn.
Elli Diakanastasi, diakanastasi@aueb.gr, Dr Angeliki Karagiannaki, akaragianaki@aueb.gr
Athens University of Economics and Business, Eltrun, E-business Research Center
15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Supported by Università degli Studi Internazionali di Roma (UNINT)
Abstract
Literature regarding entrepreneurial teams has risen the last decade (Fayolle et al., 2014). Researchers
study entrepreneurial teams as a part of a big company, even though an entrepreneurial team usually
does not evolve under the context of a large and stable organization. It mostly works and flourish under
circumstances of instability, lack of income, uncertainty, innovation, creativity, problem solving. A
music band works under the same circumstances.
Music bands already have been used as an example in researching how organizations can be more
innovative and creative (Kamoche;2003) and some researchers claim that team dynamics of an early
stage entrepreneurial team resembles the dynamics of a music band. Using a qualitative approach,
entrepreneurial teams and music bands of 3-5 members, where interviewed in order to shed light on
team dynamics and team spirit.
This empirical research attempts to identify the differences between the two and point out positive
aspects of music bands’ team spirit. The results extract six variables, ‘discussion with the team’, ‘give
space to everyone’, ‘practice’, ‘perform as a unity’, ‘trust’, ‘everyone acts as a composer/leader’ which
seems to enhance band’s cohesion and performance, as also can help entrepreneurial teams tackle
their team dynamics in a way that provides a more efficient outcome.
Key words: team dynamics, entrepreneurial teams, music bands, interdisciplinary, startups,
entrepreneurship, cohesion
This paper tries to find inspiration from various disciplines in order to ameliorate entrepreneurial team
dynamics. As Aldrich (1999) stated In non-technology-based populations, some of the knowledge used
can be enacted through an arbitrary but creative recombination of existing knowledge. (…) cultural
industries music, theater, the arts, and so forth spring from new ways of looking at existing
knowledge. After studying the literature review, the researchers found that an entrepreneurial team
dynamics’ were most common with sports teamsdynamics and small music groups’ dynamics (Bartel
& Saavedra, 2000). Jazz bands (Oldfather, West. (1994)) have been studied several times in the
literature because of the similarities of these teams.
Comparisons revealed that music bands as well as entrepreneurial teams behave as a team and not as
a group. If we want to understand the difference, we can set an example. In an aerobics class, there is
a group. They listen and follow the trainer and make the same moves synchronized. The main difference
with the team is that their actions probably will not affect the other group members because they have
a common goal or outcome. That would happen in the case of a team. It is clear that team members
behave with the knowledge that their actions will affect the actions of other team members and of the
common goal they work for. As Cordery (2004) stated, teamwork is the extent to which the members
are “truly reliant on each other’s actions” and is not to be confused with group work - which does not
require a high degree of interdependency unlike a team. There are many definitions of what a team is,
but the researchers prefer to work with the one given by Schjoedt and Kraus pg 515,(2009) regarding
entrepreneurial teams:
two or more persons who have an interest, both financial and otherwise, and commitment to a
venture’s future and success; whose work is interdependent in the pursuit of common goals
and venture success; who are considered to be at the executive level with executive
responsibility in the early phases of the venture, including founding and pre-start-up; and who
are seen as a social entity by themselves and by others.
To further this aim, our article is structured as follows. In the beginning, we review the literature.
Method follows and we sum up with a conclusion, research limitations, and directions for future
research. Empirically, the research is based on interviews and time spent with the music bands. Using
this qualitative data, we explore the factors that could be copied by nascent entrepreneurial teams.
Literature review
Research of entrepreneurial teams has received growing recent attention in the last years because of
its importance, with extant entrepreneurial literature focused on the upper echelons theory
(Hambrick, 2007; Hiebl, 2014; Waldman et al., 2004). Entrepreneurial teams are the base of 79.1
percent of new ventures (Kollmann et al., 2015). However, even though ETs are now getting the
scholarly recognition that they deserve, the overall number of research articles addressing this topic
remains reasonably low” (Ben-Hafaïedh, 2017). In the most recent entrepreneurial team literature
review we find Klotz et al. (2014) studying intermediary mechanisms that affect how team inputs
influences effectiveness. The association amid new venture diversity and performance is under the
lens of Zhou and Rosini (2015). The importance of sharing equity from the first steps of team
formation to prevent major conflict issues is stressed by Balkin and Swift (2006). This study continues
the research around a founding team by taking examples from the music industry.
Ben-Hafaïedh, (2017) quotes there are ‘three specific types of outcomes that have proved valuable in
examining team effectiveness: (a) the team’s production of a high- quality product, be it a physical
product, a decision, a plan or other output; (b) the team’s contribution to the wellbeing and growth of
the team; and (c) the continuing capability of members to work together in the future (Hackman,
1987; Hackman and Wageman, 2005). This study tried to incorporate these aspects while studying the
teams.
In line with the ideas of previous researchers that have searched the meanings of cohesion, fulfillment,
conflict and effectiveness in music bands, Pescosolido and Saavedra (2012) claim that Cohesion has an
instrumental basis. All groupsmusical groups, work groups, sports teams, committeesform for a
purpose. Even groups that may be considered purely “social” in nature have an instrumental basis for
their formation’. Timmons et al. (2004) state that Likewise, innumerable metaphors from other parts
of life can describe the complex world of the entrepreneur and the entrepreneurial process. From music
it is jazz. In ‘Leading entrepreneurial teams: insights from jazz’ Ucbasaran et al (2011) emphasizes the
concepts of individuality, uncertainty of working conditions, creativity etc. Forbes (2006) points out
that we could take examples from such music groups in order to have valuable outcomes for
entrepreneurial teams. Bathurst and Ladkin (2012) studied jazz groups to find insights for
entrepreneurial leadership.
These and other studies gave us the stimulus to enter this research, and even though we did not
replicate the previously reported cases, our results suggest that in most of the studies, jazz music
groups were selected as a unit of analysis. Many times, the correlation was with groups in large
established organizations. But as Ubscaran et al (2011) state, Although the link between jazz and
management is well established, its absence from entrepreneurship research is notable. We find this
surprising given that innovation, creativity and improvisation are central to both jazz music (e.g., Tyler
& Tyler, 1990; Hatch, 1997; Weick, 1998) and the entrepreneurial process (e.g. Ward, 2004; Baker,
Miner & Eesley, 2003; Hmieleski & Corbett, 2006)”.
To take it a step further, the novelty of our study is that it takes as a unit of analysis small music bands
from various genres of music (rather than only jazz) and tries to pinpoint patterns of behavior that
nascent entrepreneurial teams can adopt for their benefit.
In Table 1, there is a literature review that spurred our interest and motivation for the study.
Cartwright, P. and
Swearing, K., 2020.
Group Work: Application
and Performance
Effectiveness in Musical
Ensembles. In New
Leadership in Strategy
and Communication (pp.
329-350). Springer,
Cham.
The creative process of the musician involves two phases, which are
described below. The first, the practice phase, is psychologically
dynamic and involves specific challenges to the musician’s self-
experience. It is during the practice stage that the musician is most
creative (one exception to this might be the improvisations of jazz
musicians). The second phase is that of the public performance, at
which time the results of the creative effort are displayed
we introduce a paradox that underpins plural leadership. Like
leadership, music-making begins before any sounds are made or any
actions taken. For musicians there is an abiding respect for the tool of
his or her trade, the instrument. This respect has developed over many
years of personal practice and preparation. Successful performance is
not possible without these many hours spent alone grappling with the
technical difficulties that the musician confronts when mastering the
instrument.”
Rabinowitch, T., Cross, I.
and Burnard, P., 2012.
Musical group
interaction,
intersubjectivity and
merged
subjectivity. Kinesthetic
empathy in creative and
cultural practices,
pp.109-120.
“Each participant’s individual sense that they are experiencing the
meaning of the music ‘naturally’ encourages the perception that the
experiences of other participants must be in alignment with their own”
Kamoche, K., Cunha,
M.P.E. and Cunha, J.V.D.,
2003. Towards a theory
of organizational
improvisation: Looking
beyond the jazz
metaphor. Journal of
Management
Studies, 40(8), pp.2023-
2051
We note, however, that improvisation is not exclusive to jazz. In fact,
according to acclaimed guitarist and musical producer Derek Bailey
(1992) there is scarcely any musical technique or form that did not
originate in improvisation and scarcely any single field in music which
has remained unaffected by improvisation. ”
“Achieving a meaningful performance requires a balance between
collaboration and competition. Thus, without seeking to romanticize
jazz, we would argue that egotistical behavior must be situated within
a context of a collaborative praxis.
TalShmotkin, M. and
Gilboa, A., 2013. Do
behaviors of string
quartet ensembles
represent selfmanaged
teams? Team
Performance
Management: An
International Journal.
Typically, the operation of such teams involves designing methods
and procedures of work, evaluating performance, making decisions,
taking possession of the results, and managing various things for which
supervision or management are usually responsible (Attaran and
Nguyen, 2000; Polley and Ribbens, 1998). SMTs set their own goals
(aligned with their organizational strategy), may prepare their own
budget, coordinate with other units, order materials from suppliers,
and be responsible for developing skills within the team”
The maintenance of such interpersonal relations requires a culture of
transparency of work procedures, mutual encouragement of members
in creative and innovative initiatives, and tolerance to different ways of
thinking. SMTs”
Ucbasaran, D., Lockett,
A. and Humphreys, M.,
2011. Leading
entrepreneurial teams:
insights from
jazz. London: Institute for
Small Business and
Entrepreneurship.
Jazz bands have to deal with these issues whilst having to be highly
innovative under conditions of uncertainty. We propose that an
empirical examination of the practices of jazz groups and their leaders
may reveal valuable theoretical and practical insights into how best to
lead entrepreneurial teams in dynamic environments
Table 1. Indicative Literature Review
Method
Working seven years in a university incubator/accelerator, the researchers started pointing out some
patterns in the behavior of nascent entrepreneurial teams and the way their in-between team dynamics
affect the team’s cohesion and the project they work on. As also seen in the literature (e.g., Ucbasaran
et al, 2011), nascent entrepreneurial teams work under circumstances of uncertainty, under imbalance
and many times zero income for a long time. Their tasks require a lot of creativity, eligibility, innovative
ways of thinking and working under pressure. Additionally, both type of teams are formed by people
who operate and innovate for their own pleasure, and afterwards market this outcome (Agarwal &
Shah, 2014).
For our first goal, we focused on which kind of team to choose. We chose music bands instead of sports
teams as a unit of analysis. This is because sports teams always have a coach, with a very distinctive
role that guides the team. Whilst music bands and entrepreneurial teams do not always follow that
rule.
14 music bands, that had between 3-5 members were studied. All the teams had already worked
together two years or more. They all self-assessed that they mainly work in harmony and are happy
with the outcome. (The researchers wanted contented teams, in order to study what brings them this
feeling.) They do not work with a manager.
Type of music
Rock mainly alternative, grunge, progressive
Greek post-traditional
Fusion rock, tradition, Balkan and reggae
Folk, alternative
Aggressive Metal
Jazz
Rock, hard rock, pop rock
Rock metal progressive
Groovy/Funky
Indie
Psychedelic reggae
Kind of Jazz
Pop
Indie alternative rock
Table 2. Genre Description of music bands studied
A minimum of two participants per band replied to an open-ended questionnaire, and at least one of
them was not the leader (if there was one). The analysts also spent some time during a two years’
time with the bands at rehearsals and in live shows. There, unstructured interviews and observation
took place. Bands where chosen based on their success both on the result they give out (they have
fans, perform lives often and get paid for that) as also their in-between relationships which were
described as excellent from all team members. Some of these are also factors of measuring evolution
and success of entrepreneurial teams: financial, expansion, and survival indicators (Shah et al., 2019).
Members displayed excellent relationships and a described a sense of happiness and belonging with
each other and into their project. That was done in order for the researchers to see what bands do to
keep balance and maintain the feeling of fulfillment in order to gather examples that the
entrepreneurial teams could use as well.
Moreover, semi-structured interviews were used, with open-ended questions in order to enable an
unlimited number of categories to emerge (Marx and Tobias, 2019). The interviews and questionnaire
were answered from the bands and from twelve teams from prior research (Diakanastasi et al., 2018)
Following theory from Birks et al (2013), who supports that if the data that were previously collected
are rich enough (e.g., a multi-year ethnographic study), it may allow for strong theory building,
following constant comparison and coding approaches
The questionnaire was adapted from Fairfield et al (2003) to a format that could be answered by music
bands and by nascent entrepreneurial teams too. Elements from the original questionnaire which were
not relevant to the research’s context were erased. We executed an informal content analysis to classify
the key words, in order to make a coding of the content. The conclusion was the following key
words/phrases: discussion with the team, give space to everyone, practice, perform as a unity,
trust, everyone acts as a composer/leader.
The objective of this study is to pinpoint factors that balance and ameliorate the dynamics of an
entrepreneurial team by taking examples from successful (in these points) music bands. Elements of
grounded theory were chosen in order to run this research and develop initial question, gather data,
and find out patterns and codes in order to build theory (inspired from Murphy, Klotz, & Kreiner, 2017).
The following scheme shows how:
Figure Ι. Steps to theoretical Development
This research tries to expand theory, not endorse it (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss, 1987) as ‘grounded
theory has its emphasis on the socially constructed nature of reality (Goulding 1998), and the aim is to
produce interpretations that can explain social phenomenon and provide information of value to those
engaged in the behavior under study (Pettigrew, 2000).
Analyzing the codes
We ran a process of tagging the interview text under some categories in order to conclude to a coding
scheme which helps as analyze the qualitative data.
‘Discussion with the team
All bands declared that conflicts were solved with discussion and repetition of a given task/music
piece. Some also stated that they may vote sometimes and all votes are equal. All voices can be
heard in our team. There are times that there is a lot of vibration (different opinions), but in the end
of the "day" we conclude and in the outside world we have one voice’. This finding is contrary to the
findings of Hambrick and Mason, (1984) and the “upper echelon” perspective.
‘Practice
Musicians have the term of “practice”. This means to study their pieces and also make some standard
exercises alone and some with the band. A lot of practice reduces possibility for problems to occur and
almost definitely makes easier to find a solution if they appear’, reported the music bands. It is worth
noticing that in entrepreneurial literature practice is not a term that appears often. Most harmony
after a lot of practice, less harmony in the beginning is essential to have time to practice all together.
When the entrepreneurial teams had to respond to this termalthough it was not in their everyday
vocabulary between themthey understood it as a combination of having experience, studying on your
own to solve some problems in your own area and having to work a lot of hours with the rest of the
members. The more hours having worked together, the fewer problems there are.
‘Give space to everyone
This term may seem obvious, but it was not for the entrepreneurial teams. For music bands, giving
space to everyone meant several things. First of all, to hear everybody’s opinion, but mostly to give
space to everyone to play their music and shine as a unit. In small bands like the ones that were studied,
it is a custom that everybody plays a solo part. The solo is usually played as the last songs of a live
concert, and although it keeps a sense of the main song, it usually has a lot of improvisation. A good
Improvisation, according to musicians, comes from creativity, passion, technique, lot of practice and a
feeling of freedom which they define as no critique from the band, only sincere feedback.
It was noticed from the interviews that entrepreneurial teams didn’t have this meaning of “soloing” in
their routine. They didn’t give the opportunity to team members to also act as units and show their
own potential.
Perform as a unity
This may seem contradictory from the latter. They all try to harmonize to a very good result, everyone
tries to harmonize with everyone, the band is always trying to give new ideas and are contributing to
the final shape of the song and the most explicatory would be ‘music works when everybody is playing
together, in unity, as opposed to 4-5 different instruments that happen to play at the same time. This
comes really close to the definition of team that this research adopts.
When comparing bands’ answers to those of the entrepreneurial teams, it was noticed that this was
not self-evident at all. In most of the 15 cases of nascent entrepreneurial teams interviewed, many
answered that they didn’t care about what the rest of the team do. Especially the IT staff. They just
wanted clear tasks to execute.
Trust
At first glance this would seem as something obvious coming from a team. Nevertheless, no one coming
from the entrepreneurial teams mentioned this word or this meaning. Whilst music bands stated ‘we
let music happen while trusting each other’ and ‘we harmonize when there is respect and trust, it is a
matter of trust to bring out the best of my self. When there was a mutual feeling of trust, interviewees
seemed to feel more comfortable to perform better, but also more called by duty to give their best.
When I play a melody or my part, each one in the group tries his part quietly till they find the right
harmony.
Everyone Acts as a Composer/Leader
Although seven out of twelve bands were a personal project (meaning that the band executes one
person’s compositions and choosing), everybody had a say as plain performers but also on the
orchestration, composing, and performing parts. Members act as spectators when they hear a new
piece and need to figure out how to play it. Everyone acts as a composer on their side. Everybody puts
some effort and their own personality when they perform their part. They all get to say their opinion
we're all trying to make the song work. Sometimes the bass player has to compose a bass line or
improve a bass line that I've written and sometimes the guitar player would add a riff or play his own
solo in a song’.
Adding to all these, there was another factor that may have affected the way the music bands acts, and
makes it more stable. This is that they are all on stage during performance. They have all exposure.
In an entrepreneurial team, the end user or the client may never see the people behind the product’s
service. If they meet someone from the entrepreneurial team, it will most likely be the business
developer or a sales person. In the bands we studied, during a live performance they are all in stage,
and the product they are selling, is being sold by all of them. They have equal parts of solo
performance and interaction.
In order to conclude
Figure II. Behavioral Patterns Entrepreneurial Teams could copy from Music Bands
Conclusion, Limitation and Future Research
Six variables, discussion with the team, give space to everyone, practice, perform as a unity, trust,
everyone acts as a composer/leader were noted that made a musical team perform better and feel
content. Four of them (although they are not the same), could go under a greater umbrella the
meaning of team spirit as given by Silva et al. pg 288, (2014). Essentially, team spirit can be viewed as
an inter-subjectively shared facility with which individual members of a team can balance opposing
tensions in a consistent way, managing to maintain a healthy synthesis between individual and
collective needs and expectations, preventing the team from dominating the individuals, as well as
specific individuals from capturing the team.
Music bands members that felt content and functioned well as a group, seems that have the
opportunity to feel free to perform, say their opinion, improvise, create, and give feedback in a team
environment where they feel secure.
On the other hand this environment has solid structures (clearly set, roles, music pieces, rehearsals,
standard performances). It has also three stages of “working”. Everyday study, rehearsal and live
performance. From our study we conclude that this sense of freedom and flexibility in a structured
environment keeps the cohesion and the performance of the team at a high level.
Although entrepreneurship literature is blooming and shows entrepreneurial teams as a stimulant for
new venture creation (Cooper & Daily,1997; Visintin & Pittino, 2014), the most interdisciplinary
literature is between organizational psychology and entrepreneurship. The present research grants to
this field by proposing a new approach coming from another disciplinemusicusing qualitative data
from a range of musical bands of various size and operating in different genres of music.
Mainly three disciplines economics, psychology, and sociology have been used for theorizing and
examining entrepreneurial team until now according to Ben-Hafaïedh (2017). The current findings were
based on the disciplines of economics, psychology, and literature from musicology writers. The results
can serve as stimulus and suggestions for further interdisciplinary research that will address and
identify effective behavioral characteristics in musical ensembles in order to apply them to
organizations settings.
The present study has several limitations to consider. First of all, the number of the bands. The study
was conducted with 14 bands. The interviews did not include recording time in a studio, where
processes are different and the producer has a major role.
The fact that the bands were willing to participate in a study like this may show that they are more
open minded and extroverted than other musicians.
Because of the lack of time but also the excess resources the study would take, it was decided not to
analyze in this paper all the answers the nascent entrepreneurial teams gave. (For further information
see Diakanastasi et al, (2018) and limit the study to the factors that could make entrepreneurial teams
more effective.)
The limitations of the present studies naturally include that grounded theory may have the problem of
generalizability (Goulding 1998; Johnson 1990). Is it really correct to draw conclusions from such a
sample where the researcher also has personal contact? On the other hand, it offers opportunities in
terms of the in-depth analysis of the phenomenon of interest (Buchanan, 1999; Tsoukas, 2009).
Τhis research beyond its theoretical impact has an practical impact, as can be used by nascent
entrepreneurial teams, leaders, founders, accelerators etc. in order to change their perspective and try
some of the proposed ways of team work for achieving improved results.
We couldn’t agree more with Ben-Hafaïedh (2017): “with acknowledging this view (e.g., Agarwal, 2019),
future research may examine how the different elements of the formation process influence advanced
phases. Future research may shed light on how initial formation processes can trigger, foster or
diminish these compositional and dynamic features over time, and how contextual factors can
constrain or shape these relationships at nascent stages of the team.
Future research can take as a tool a longitudinal approach in order to help us understand how attraction
and commitment between the members keep the teams from splitting and keep them running. In this
ongoing real time evolutionary study (like this one) we believe can give better results than a
retrospective study.
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