We investigate the relationship between (hypothetical) subgroup splits (i.e., faultlines), subjectively perceived subgroups, and team identification and emotional exhaustion. Based on the job demands-resources model and on self-categorization theory, we propose that faultline strength and perceived subgroups negatively affect emotional exhaustion, mediated by team identification. We further propose that subgroup identification moderates the mediation such that subgroup identification compensates low levels of team identification. We tested our hypotheses with a two-wave questionnaire study in a sample of 105 participants from 48 teams from various contexts. We found an effect of perceived subgroups on emotional exhaustion mediated by team identification, but no direct or indirect effect of faultline strength on emotional exhaustion. We also could not find that subgroup identification moderates the effect of team identification on emotional exhaustion. We discuss the need for further research on the link of subgroup splits in work teams and the rise of psychological health issues and derive that measures to prevent burnout should primarily focus on avoiding or reducing subgroup perception whereas affecting the actual demographic composition of work team should be of lower priority.
This article is openly accessible at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.595720/full