Benefit or Cost? A Rookie Driver’s Perception of High Cohesion

Jennifer Milne, Pete Coffee, David Lavallee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cohesion is a multidimensional dynamic construct incorporating both task and social elements of a team: how members come together and remain unified in pursuit of team goals. Cohesion is vital for team harmony and the many advantages have been extensively studied. Some other research has evidenced the disadvantages of high team cohesion. Cohesion’s impact on performance is unclear. Cohesion can impact performance both positively and negatively. High cohesion contributes to harmful group processes such as deindividuation and group think: this could negatively affect performance. The purpose of this investigation was to develop understanding of how the important psychological costs of high cohesion in motorsport impacts performance. This was a mixed method case study of a World Rally Championship team across an entire competitive season. Narrative theory framed the case study process with the main qualitative data derived from interviews with the motorsport driver after each competition of the season and at the end of the season. 7.5 hours of data were thematically analyzed. Performance and cohesion were measured by self-rating across the season. Cohesion was consistently high, but performance wasn’t reciprocated accordingly. High cohesion produced 4 psychological costs: pressure to conform with normative influence, rigid demands and methods with narrow goal focus, communication issues and pressure to perform. This case study supports previous literature that proposes that high cohesion potentially negatively impacts performance through these psychological costs which can work to disrupt effective communication. A new model is offered to minimize the detrimental impact on performance produced through the psychological costs of high team cohesion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Motorsport Management
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Case study
  • communication
  • conflict
  • elite
  • motorsport


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