University of Calgary

Thomas O'Neill

  • Professor

Individual and Team Performance Laboratory

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Research Interests

The ultimate goal of my research program is to discover how to optimize work team effectiveness, especially in light of their increasing reliance on electronic communication technologies to communicate, share information, solve problems, and make decisions. I have secured three main sources of funding to support this research.


The Virtual Team Performance, Innovation, and Collaboration Laboratory (2013; O'Neill & Lee, Co-Investigators)

This laboratory emerged from an infrastructure grant jointly funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the University of Calgary. It is a state-of-the-art multi-room facility with video, teleconference, and text based communication capabilities. We are located through Administration building 135 to 145. In this lab we are testing virtual team training procedures, such as learning structured information sharing techniques, that improve team dynamics and effectiveness in virtual environments. We are now beginning to investigate how configurations of virtual team member dispersion affect team functioning. Specifically, modern teams hold meetings where different combinations of members are collocated versus distributed, but most of our current knowledge is based on comparisons of pure face-to-face versus fully-distributed teams with each member at a different site.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada – Insight Development Grant (2012; O'Neill, Principal Investigator)

This operating grant currently supports the virtual teams research conducted in the Virtual Team Performance, Innovation, and Collaboration laboratory. In addition, it supports our field research on virtual, telework, home-based, and remote work in organizations. This research examines personality-related determinants of people’s engagement, satisfaction, and performance when working off-site, and the impact of configurations of virtual team member distribution across sites.


Chair in Design Engineering in Energy Systems (co-Investigators: Rosehart & Brennan; co-Associates: Eggermont & O'Neill)

My role in the current grant is to develop, implement, and evaluate cutting-edge team competency and team dynamics training in student engineering design teams in the Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary. We have currently identified four team types with respect to the pattern of conflict they experience, and found that the team type affects team dynamics and team performance. As such, we implemented a targeted training program, and our evaluation data indicate marked increases in the number of teams reaching an effective conflict profile and increases in the quality of team dynamics. As of this writing, approximately 240 student teams have completed the training. The next intervention we plan to develop involves team competency training in individual contributors, with a focus on the graduate attributes communication and teamwork, which are accreditation criteria of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board.

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