Skip to main content

Please enter a keyword and click the arrow to search the site

Learning from many: partner exposure and team familiarity in fluid teams


Management Science


Management Science and Operations

Authors / Editors

Aksin Z;Deo S;Jonasson J;Ramdas K


Publication Year



In services where teams come together for short collaborations, managers are often advised to strive for high team familiarity so as to improve coordination and consequently, performance. However, inducing high team familiarity by keeping team membership intact can limit workers’ opportunities to acquire useful knowledge and alternative practices from exposure to a broader set of partners. We introduce an empirical measure for prior partner exposure and estimate its impact (along with that of team familiarity) on operational performance using data from the London Ambulance Service. Our analysis focuses on ambulance transports involving new paramedic recruits, where exogenous changes in team membership enable identification of the performance effect. Specifically, we investigate the impact of prior partner exposure on time spent during patient pickup at the scene and patient handover at the hospital. We find that the effect varies with the process characteristics. For the patient pickup process, which is less standardized, greater partner exposure directly improves performance. For the more standardized patient handover process, this beneficial effect is triggered beyond a threshold of sufficient individual experience. In addition, we find some evidence that this beneficial performance impact of prior partner exposure is amplified during periods of high workload, particularly for the patient handover process. Finally, a counterfactual analysis based on our estimates shows that a team formation strategy emphasizing partner exposure outperforms one that emphasizes team familiarity by about 9.2% in our empirical context.


Fluid teams; Membership change; Partner exposure; Team familiarity; Operational performance

Available on ECCH


Select up to 4 programmes to compare

Select one more to compare
subscribe_image_desktop 5949B9BFE33243D782D1C7A17E3345D0

Sign up to receive our latest news and business thinking direct to your inbox


Sign up to receive our latest course information and business thinking

Leave your details above if you would like to receive emails containing the latest thought leadership, invitations to events and news about courses that could enhance your career. If you would prefer not to receive our emails, you can still access the case study by clicking the button below. You can opt-out of receiving our emails at any time by visiting: or by unsubscribing through the link provided in our emails. View our Privacy Policy for more information on your rights.