Toward an understanding of macrocognition in teams: Predicting processes in complex collaborative contexts

Stephen M. Fiore, Michael A. Rosen, Kimberly A. Smith-Jentsch, Eduardo Salas, Michael Letsky, Norman Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: This article presents a model for predicting complex collaborative processes as they arise in one-of-a-kind problem-solving situations to predict performance outcomes. The goal is to outline a set of key processes and their interrelationship and to describe how these can be used to predict collaboration processes embedded within problem-solving contexts. Background: Teams are increasingly called upon to address complex problem-solving tasks in novel situations. This represents a domain of performance that to date has been underrepresented in the research literature. Method: Multidisciplinary theoretical and empirical literature relating to knowledge work in teams is synthesized. Results: A set of propositions developed to guide research into how teams externalize cognition and build knowledge in service of problem solving is presented. First, a brief overview of macrocognition in teams is provided to distinguish the present work from other views of team cognition. Second, a description of the foundational theoretical concepts driving the theory of macrocognition in teams presented here is provided. Third, a set of propositions described within the context of a model of macrocognition in teams is forwarded. Conclusion: The theoretical framework described in this article provides a set of empirically testable propositions that can ultimately guide practitioners in efforts to support macrocognition in teams. Application: A theory of macrocognition in teams can provide guidance for the development of training interventions and the design of collaborative tools to facilitate knowledge-based performance in teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-224
Number of pages22
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • collaborative problem solving
  • externalized cognition
  • knowledge building
  • knowledge-based team performance
  • macrocognition in teams
  • naturalistic decision making
  • team cognition
  • team performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Toward an understanding of macrocognition in teams: Predicting processes in complex collaborative contexts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this