The intent of cross-functional teams is to bring together diverse individuals of relevant functional expertise from across an organization to solve problems rapidly and efficiently. The difficulty with cross-functional teams is in establishing and maintaining mutual accountability because individuals come with their respective individual accountabilities and the methods for which those accountabilities were established. This qualitative study explored mutual accountability, how it is established, and its impact on cross-functional teams. Nine individuals participated in semi-structured interviews to explore how mutual accountability is established, barriers to establishing and maintaining it, and the impact of its presence or lack thereof on the overall effectiveness of cross-functional teams. Four dominant themes emerged: clarity of expectations, management support, cultural norms, and the role of a team driver. The results showed that creating and upholding mutual accountability in cross-functional teams is challenging because it relies on multiple elements that are often interdependent of one another.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Cross-functional teams; Teams in the workplace; Accountability

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Ann Feyerherm