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Article

Tony Manning, Richard Parker and Graham Pogson

To provide a critique of Belbin's team role theory, including the provision of a re‐definition of the concept of team role and an adequate framework for relating

Abstract

Purpose

To provide a critique of Belbin's team role theory, including the provision of a re‐definition of the concept of team role and an adequate framework for relating personality to team roles. The re‐defined concept of team roles has a significant social dimension that relates it to the roles people habitually play in teams, the autonomy provided by such roles and their commitment to them. It also advocates the use of the “Big Five” model for describing individual personality differences and relating them to team role behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

A revised model of team role behaviour is described, along with a brief account of the “Big Five” model of personality, and findings are presented that relate team role behaviour to three sets of variables, namely, personality, team role expectations and team role orientation, including autonomy and commitment.

Findings

Team role behaviour is described using both self‐assessments and aggregated assessments by others derived from instruments using Likert‐type scales. Information is presented showing the relationship between these measures of team role behaviour and three sets of variables, namely, personality, team role expectations and team role orientation, including autonomy and commitment. These findings support the idea that team roles have a significant social dimension and that the “Big Five” model of personality provides a useful model for relating team role behaviour to individual personality traits.

Research limitations/implications

The research does not look at a number of other issues raised by Belbin's theory of team roles, including the relationship between team composition and team effectiveness. Further research, using the measures described in the article, could be carried out to explore this relationship in actual teams, including exploring team composition in different work contexts.

Practical implications

The main implication of the research is that, while team role behaviour does appear to be related in part to individual personality traits, such traits are much less constraining than Belbin's theory suggests. Team role behaviour can usefully be seen, in part at least, as learned social behaviour, with individuals learning to play different roles in teams. Thus attempts to improve team effectiveness would benefit from looking more at learned behaviour (including leadership, problem solving, work organisation and interpersonal skills, as well as specialist expertise relevant to the particular team), while focusing relatively less on assessment, selection, placement and guidance.

Originality/value

Previous research on, and criticisms of, Belbin's team role theory have challenged it from within the discipline of psychology. This research is unique in criticising it from a more sociological perspective. It is also unique in shifting the practical focus for improving team effectiveness away from assessment, selection, placement and guidance to learned behaviour and skills.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 38 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

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Article

S.G. Fisher, T.A. Hunter and W.D.K. Macrosson

Belbin team role scores derived from the 16PF5 personality questionnaire data were obtained from a sample of volunteers drawn from industrial and local authority…

Abstract

Belbin team role scores derived from the 16PF5 personality questionnaire data were obtained from a sample of volunteers drawn from industrial and local authority organizations. The volunteers, comprising male and female managers and non‐managers, with approximately equal numbers in each of the four possible categories, were set into teams. Approximately half of the 55 teams comprised solely managers, the other half solely non‐managers. The distribution of Belbin team roles over all the teams was not controlled. All teams completed a business game typically used for training managers in team decision making. The distribution of Belbin scores amongst all the volunteers and the results of the business game provided evidence in support of the claim that Belbin’s team role theory can be applied to non‐managerial personnel.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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Article

David Partington and Hilary Harris

Accompanying the growing use of teams in the workplace, Belbin’s diagnostic instrument for team role self‐perception is now widely used for a variety of practical…

Abstract

Accompanying the growing use of teams in the workplace, Belbin’s diagnostic instrument for team role self‐perception is now widely used for a variety of practical management development purposes, including putting together “balanced” teams. Despite the claims of some purists that Belbin’s instrument lacks a strong theoretical underpinning, it fills an apparent void in practical teamworking literature, even though its applicability is not well understood. This study uses data from 43 teams of MBA students performing a project management simulation exercise, and finds no significant relationship between team role balance and team performance. Nevertheless, the study shows that the presence or absence of some individual roles can have a positive or negative effect on performance.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 18 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article

Bobby Watkins and Monica Gibson‐Sweet

Observes that a group of seven undergraduate consultancy project team members, studying in the final year of a business degree, greatly benefited from utilizing Meredith…

Abstract

Observes that a group of seven undergraduate consultancy project team members, studying in the final year of a business degree, greatly benefited from utilizing Meredith Belbin’s team role theory. Notes that Belbin’s approach was particularly useful in identifying strengths and weaknesses; enabling tasks to be allocated based on competence. Also that a method for retrospective analysis of the team’s performance was developed using Belbin’s framework. In some cases the perception of self differed significantly from the observed actions and behaviours. Points out that each team member completed Belbin’s psychometric test at the outset of the project and that these results were then tested through peer assessment at the end of the project, using a hypothetico‐deductive method. Uses an analogous framework to illustrate the level of cohesion and team role balance necessary for the team to perform effectively. Concludes that the learning potential of students can be maximized by enabling them to experience and reflect on the realities of team working for themselves.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 39 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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Article

Samuel H.N. Leung, Joseph W.K. Chan and W.B. Lee

The ultimate objective of knowledge management is to effectively maintain and transfer the necessary knowledge to the operation's staff. The conventional…

Abstract

The ultimate objective of knowledge management is to effectively maintain and transfer the necessary knowledge to the operation's staff. The conventional knowledge‐management methods may only be suitable for the larger‐sized enterprise, but, for the small and medium‐sized companies, it is difficult to spare dedicated resources (people, time, and money) to manage the knowledge‐accumulation and dissemination‐activities. The work presented in this paper proposes a method to overcome some of these difficulties. A role‐modification approach is used to stimulate an autonomously conducted knowledge transfer. New knowledge is developed and managed by the person who successfully takes up a new role in work team. To achieve role modification, ordinary staff‐training methods may not be effective. Psychotherapists already have a set of role‐ modification practices to assist people having role problems. Benchmarking is a suitable methodology to apply to these practices. The authors assisted an engineering‐and‐design company in adopting this psychotherapists’ practice and applied it to a work‐team environment. One of their team members was induced to undergo a role modification and an autonomous knowledge‐ transfer experience.

Details

Benchmarking: An International Journal, vol. 11 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-5771

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Article

Neil Blenkinsop and Annie Maddison

The purpose of this research is to examine the extent to which Belbin's team role theories are relevant and can be used to predict performance in the context of the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to examine the extent to which Belbin's team role theories are relevant and can be used to predict performance in the context of the Integrated Project Teams (IPTs) responsible for acquisition within the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of seven IPTs across the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) and the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) completed Belbin's (1981) manual 8 Role Self Perception Inventory in order to determine their team role preferences. A team performance survey, developed by Barbara Senior in 2005, was then used to determine perceived process performance. The relationship between these two variables was examined in detail.

Findings

The results provide support to the proposition that Belbin's Team Role Theory is relevant in MoD acquisition. Certain team roles are more predominant in certain functional roles within IPTs and this duplication could have a negative impact on performance, given Belbin's assertion that “balanced” teams will perform better than “unbalanced”. The difficulties in objectively assessing team role balance (both narratively and statistically) are discussed in detail.

Research limitations/implications

Whilst a representative sample of IPTs was investigated, a longitudinal study of a more extensive sample is required to substantiate these initial findings.

Practical implications

Belbin's Team Role Theory provides a cost effective means of potentially improving performance in defence acquisition.

Originality/value

While there have been some unpublished studies into functional roles in MoD teams, there is a research lacuna with regard to the examination of team roles as a factor influencing performance in defence acquisition.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 26 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article

Jane S. Prichard and Neville A. Stanton

Belbin’s Team‐Role Theory is extensively used as a counselling and team development tool by organisations and management consultancies in the UK. However, there is little…

Abstract

Belbin’s Team‐Role Theory is extensively used as a counselling and team development tool by organisations and management consultancies in the UK. However, there is little empirical support for his work, largely because there has been scant research. This study sought to redress this situation by testing Belbin’s proposal that teams in which a wide range of team‐roles are represented perform better than those where there is an imbalance of roles because certain roles are over‐represented. The task performance of six teams of four individuals identified as shapers by the Team‐Role Self‐Perception Inventory (Belbin, 1981), was compared with that of six mixed teams of four individuals; one co‐ordinator, one plant, one completer finisher, and one team worker. It was found that consistent with Belbin’s proposal the “mixed” teams performed better than teams consisting of shapers alone. Some possible explanations and implications of the findings are discussed.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 18 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article

Stephen G. Fisher, K W.D. and John Wong

Team role preference, as formulated by Meredith Belbin, and cognitive style are both rooted in personality. As a consequence, it should be possible to successfully…

Abstract

Team role preference, as formulated by Meredith Belbin, and cognitive style are both rooted in personality. As a consequence, it should be possible to successfully hypothesise certain relationships between team role preferences and cognitive style, or one or more of its components. To test this idea, data was collected by administering the Kirton Adaption Innovation inventory and Cattell’s 16PF personality questionnaire to a group of undergraduate students (n = 183) who were reading a mixed engineering and business degree. This paper reports correlations which substantiate some of the postulated relationships. The findings, which suggest that the ideal Belbin team contains a balanced mix of adaptors, innovators and bridgers, give a new perspective to the Belbin team role model, and should provide some guidance to those who seek to build and operate “Belbinesque” teams.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 13 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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Article

Aitor Aritzeta, Sabino Ayestaran and Stephen Swailes

In the context of the widespread and extensive use of team work in organizations this study analyses the relationship between individual team role preference and styles of…

Abstract

In the context of the widespread and extensive use of team work in organizations this study analyses the relationship between individual team role preference and styles of managing interpersonal conflict. Data were collected from 26 work teams containing 169 individuals at two times four months apart. Results show that team role preference is related to Dominating, Integrating, Avoiding, Compromising and Obliging conflict management styles. Moreover, two different effects were observed over time. Firstly, at Time 2 an increase in the role clarity (reduction of role ambiguity) of team members was observed. Secondly, time pressure and team learning processes moderated the relationship between team roles and conflict managing style. Results have theoretical as well as practical implications for team building programmes in search of integrative solutions to conflict.

Details

International Journal of Conflict Management, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1044-4068

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Article

Steven G. Fisher, K W.D. and John H. Semple

Consideration of Belbin’s team role model led to the view that some of the roles proposed might require the exercise of control, but others much less so. A hypothesis…

Abstract

Consideration of Belbin’s team role model led to the view that some of the roles proposed might require the exercise of control, but others much less so. A hypothesis which indicated which roles might be expected to manifest expressed and wanted control was developed and then tested using Schutz’s FIRO‐B questionnaire. A mixture of graduates in employment and undergraduates still at university were utilised as subjects for the investigation. After consideration of the validity of Schutz’s constructs, the data obtained were construed as supporting the hypothesis and adding weight to the claims for the validity of the Belbin team role model.

Details

Personnel Review, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0048-3486

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