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Reflective team learning: linking interfering events and team adaptation

Rasmus Oertel (Department Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Trier, Trier, Germany)
Conny H. Antoni (Department Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Trier, Trier, Germany)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




This study aims to contribute to the team learning literature, by analyzing how reflective team learning is related to interfering events and to subsequent team adaptation.


Longitudinal data were obtained from 33 project teams consisting of 131 students. Participants answered an online questionnaire three times during the term. The data were analyzed at the team level by conducting multiple hierarchical regression and bootstrap analyses.


Results show an indirect effect of interfering events on team adaptation through reflective team learning, supporting recent models of episodic team processes and interruptive events. Findings indicate that reflective team learning is related to situational events and subsequent team adaptation. It was concluded that events that interfere with team action in a given time period stimulate the occurrence of reflective behavior, resulting in team adaptation.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size is rather small, the context is very specific and the study focuses on reflective team learning. Therefore, future studies should try to replicate the findings with larger samples in other work contexts and also explore other facets of team learning.

Practical implications

The findings are valuable for managers because they highlight the opportunities interferences offer for team learning and how they can be used to achieve team adaptation.


This study contributes to team learning research by shedding light on emerging conditions of team learning processes. It provides empirical support for current models of team learning and team adaptation by analyzing longitudinal data.



The authors would like to thank Sven T. Gorholt for his contributions in conducting this study.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 17th International Workshop on Team Working (IWOT) hosted by TNO: The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, 28-29 November 2013.


Oertel, R. and H. Antoni, C. (2014), "Reflective team learning: linking interfering events and team adaptation", Team Performance Management, Vol. 20 No. 7/8, pp. 328-342.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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