Belbin s Team Role Model Applications

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University of the Basque Country ; University of Hull ; Highfield House Consultancy abstract This paper brings together research into and utilizing the squad function theoretical account developed by Belbin ( 1981. 1993a ) in an effort to supply an thorough appraisal of concept cogency in visible radiation of the conflicting grounds so far produced. Role theory is used to contextualize the beginnings of the theoretical account. The psychometric belongingss of the Team Role Self-Perception Inventory used to measure a person’s probably behavior in a squad are examined along with 43 empirical surveies that have tested theoretical associations between squad functions and other cognitive or behavioral traits.

While the grounds is assorted. we conclude that. on balance. the theoretical account and its attach toing Inventory have equal convergent cogency. However. strong associations between some squad functions are observed. bespeaking weak discriminant cogency among some graduated tables in the Inventory. Through its coverage of of import countries of teamworking. the paper contributes to the practician and research communities by supplying fresh penetrations into facets of teamworking and by proposing new research docket.


Effective teamworking has become a basic concern for most organisations. While many factors influence a team’s public presentation. considerable attending has been given to the influence of squad member diverseness in footings of functions played in a squad. The squad function theoretical account made popular by Meredith Belbin in relation to direction squads ( Belbin. 1981. 1993a ) and available commercially through Belbin Associates ( 1988 ) is widely used in pattern and has featured extensively in research on squads at work. The theoretical account is used by many organisations including FTSE-100 companies. transnational bureaus. authorities organic structures and advisers and has been translated into 16 linguistic communications.

This paper hence reviews the published research and assesses to what extent the theoretical account is supported by the available grounds. Through its coverage of of import countries of teamworking ( conflict direction. personality traits. squad public presentation. control and power ) the paper contributes to the practician and research communities by supplying fresh penetrations into facets of teamworking and by proposing new research docket. We foremost see the theoretical context for the squad function theoretical account. Second. all substantial surveies that provide psychometric grounds. relationships to personality factors and grounds for prognostic cogency are summarized. evaluated and contrasted. Finally. we discuss the cogency of the theoretical account and see the wider deductions of our findings.


Prior to the development of Belbin’s squad function theoretical account ( 1981. 1993a ) other function theories had been put frontward ( Benne and Sheats. 1948 ; Graen. 1976 ; Graen and Scandura. 1987 ; Holland. 1985 ) although the model’s links to these and other function categorizations ( e. g. Davis et Al. . 1992 ; Margerison and McCann. 1990 ; Parker. 1990 ; Spencer and Pruss. 1992 ; Woodcock. 1989 ) are ill-defined. While a comprehensive theoretical scrutiny of the many alternate function theories and theoretical accounts is beyond the range of this paper. it is of import to set up a theoretical context for the squad function theoretical account. The function construct can be viewed from two different positions. From an anthropological-sociological position it can be defined as a combination of values. attitudes and behavior assigned to an person who occupies a societal place ( a location in a societal web ) associated with a specific societal position ( the maps assigned to that individual ) .

From this position. a function can be defined as the behavior that a individual shows in relation to his/her societal place and societal position ( Linton. 1945 ) . Second. from a psychosocial position. a function can be defined as the behavior expected from an single occupying a specific place ( Biddle. 1979 ) such that the knowledge and expected behaviors associated with the place are basically of import to success in the function ( Katz and Kahn. 1978 ) . This psychosocial position is adopted for the intents of this reappraisal.

Since Lewin created the Research Centre for Group Dynamics in 1944. two types of groups have been studied: groups created to work out jobs and groups preoccupied with single development. This dichotomy has brought about a differentiation between alleged ‘task roles’ and ‘socio-emotional roles’ . In this visible radiation. Bales and Slater ( 1955 ) studied laboratory groups and concluded that there were important differences between persons concerned with work outing undertakings and persons concerned with the societal and emotional demands of group members. Peoples concerned with work outing undertakings were called ‘task leaders’ whereas those concerned with emotional demands were called ‘maintenance or socio-emotional leaders’ . Similarly. Benne and Sheats ( 1948 ) proposed a function behavior categorization depicting 12 undertaking functions and seven care functions.

Task-centred functions were concerned with the coordination of group job work outing activities. whereas care functions were concerned with advancing group-centred behavior. Both function types were thought necessary for a squad to execute good. These theoretical ancestors formed the pillars of the development of the squad function theoretical account ( Belbin. 1981 ) as its general model and the names of some squad functions connect to these and other theories ( Fisher et al. . 2001a ) .

Among theoretical theoretical accounts explicating how functions are acquired. a bipartite categorization can be made ( Ilgen and Hollenbeck. 1991 ) . First. there are ‘role taking’ theoretical accounts that consider persons as inactive acceptors of the functions assigned to them by others ( Graen. 1976 ) . An illustration is the ‘role episode model’ ( Katz and Kahn. 1978 ) where the function is defined by an interaction procedure between two people ; the individual executing the function ( the focal individual ) and another who holds a set of beliefs that constitute the function ( the function transmitter ) . The function transmitter communicates a set of beliefs and the focal individual assumes them. The 2nd categorization of function theoretical accounts sees topics actively take parting in the definition and development of their function. These theoretical accounts assume that persons are much more active and motivated to possess functions that they can execute successfully.

They are called ‘role making’ theoretical accounts because the focal individual actively attempts to act upon the function transmitter as they try to construct a function that will be acceptable to both of them. Graen and Scandura ( 1987 ) proposed the ‘theory of dyadic organizing’ which integrated and extended Graen’s first proposal ( 1976 ) . This theory describes how members of a squad organize their activities to carry through undertakings that are non prescribed in their places but cardinal for the effectual operation of the squad.

When a occupation function involves really predictable undertakings. delegating persons to functions is comparatively easy. However. as work becomes more complex so so make the abilities required by persons. The inquiry is no longer about the abilities and knowledge a individual should hold for a specific occupation but is about foretelling how a individual will act in the work unit where the work will be performed. In this sense. Holland ( 1985 ) proposed one of the first theoretical accounts that accounted for this single context accommodation. proposing that persons and occupation environments can be classified into six different types: ‘realistic’ . ‘conventional’ . ‘entrepreneur’ . ‘social’ . ‘artistic’ and ‘intellectual’ . Each type is associated with specific activities and abilities possessed by persons. A set of adjectives characterizes each type.

For illustration. the rational type is described as analytical. cautious. critical. speculative. independent. pessimistic and reserved. For persons to be successful and satisfied in a occupation. their personal abilities. involvements and personality traits should set with the demands. wagess and interpersonal dealingss offered by the occupation consistent with single occupation accommodation theory. Holland ( 1985 ) proposed that an person may expose properties of more than one type and besides that there are compatible and incompatible types ; for illustration. ‘intellectual’ and ‘artistic’ types are more compatible than ‘artistic’ and ‘conventional’ types. Belbin’s squad function theoretical account can be linked to these function theories and function categorizations.

We now turn to reexamine the literature on the squad function theoretical account. pulling upon surveies utilizing the Team Role Self Perception Inventory ( TRSPI ) through which it is operationalized. We besides review team function appraisal utilizing personality questionnaires and empirical surveies that have explored the theoretical web of squad function concepts in an effort to better understand how single squad function penchant is related to the behavioral definition of squad functions every bit good as to other countries of teamwork behavior.

As with most function theories. Belbin’s theoretical account is non preoccupied with the functions ( behavioral forms ) per Se but with the ways in which the functions develop. alteration and interact with other forms of behavior over clip. The theoretical account was proposed after a nine-year survey of squad edifice and squad effectivity with direction squads taking portion in an executive direction exercising ( Lawrence. 1974 ) . Prior to take parting in the exercising. persons completed Cattell’s 16PF personality questionnaire and Watson Glaser’s Critical Thinking Appraisal. For each direction squad an perceiver recorded group processes based upon Bales’ ( 1950 ) synergistic procedure analysis and reported their observations.

Successful and less successful squads were analysed in footings of their members’ personalities and in footings of their critical thought abilities. Analysiss were so crossreferenced with observers’ studies and. as a consequence. eight squad functions were proposed. The initial classification of squad functions was hence based on appraisals of squad members’ personalities. critical thought abilities and a behavioral checklist. The lone empirical grounds of the early analysis showed a positive correlativity between public presentation anticipations based on squad function composing and existent public presentation across 22 squads ( Belbin et al. . 1976. p. 26 ) .

The eight function theoretical account was introduced ( Belbin. 1981 ) and a squad function was defined as a form of behaviour feature of the manner in which one squad member interacts with another in order to ease the advancement of the squad as a whole. Name callings and descriptive adjectives for each of the eight squad functions were besides included. In 1993 some squad functions were renamed and a 9th function added. Descriptions of each function are given in Appendix 1. In this theoretical account a function is defined by six factors: personality. mental ability. current values and motive. field restraints. experience. and function acquisition. However. Belbin did non demo how much of the discrepancy in a squad function is explained by each factor.

In maintaining with others ( Benne and Sheats. 1948 ; Torrington et Al. . 1985 ) . Belbin defends the thought that high executing squads need to hold a balanced representation of all squad functions. The squad function balance hypothesis assumes that if all squad functions are present in a squad so it will execute better than other squads without the balance. Belbin besides considers that the squad function construct ( a penchant to act in a peculiar manner with other squad members while executing undertakings ) should be distinguished from the construct of functional function which refers to the proficient accomplishments and operational cognition relevant to the occupation. Consequently. several people may hold the same functional function but vary greatly in their natural squad function ( s ) .

Belbin besides stresses the nexus between the phases of a team’s development and the demand for different squad functions to rule at different phases. Six different phases of development are proposed: ( 1 ) identifying demands ; ( 2 ) happening thoughts ; ( 3 ) formulating programs ; ( 4 ) doing thoughts ; ( 5 ) set uping team organisation ; and ( 6 ) following through. In the early phases team functions like Shaper and Co-ordinator will be most needed. whereas in the ulterior phases Completer-Finishers and Implementers make higher parts.

Operationalizing the Model

The squad function theoretical account is ideally operationalized through a self-perception stock list and through observers’ appraisals to give a rounded appraisal of a person’s squad function. The original Team Role Self Perception Inventory ( TRSPI-8R ) was hand-scored such that respondents computed their ain profile. This version was subsequently modified to incarnate the nine function theoretical account ( TRSPI-9R ) and for this version respondents’ profiles are generated by the Interplace computing machine bundle. Since it was ne’er intended that the TRSPI should be the lone input to researching a person’s squad function. an Observer Assessment Sheet ( OAS ) was besides designed to be used by work co-workers who could do an informed opinion based on their cognition of the individual. The OAS should be used alongside the TRSPI although in many state of affairss merely the stock list is used. Detailss of the marking processs for these instruments are given in Appendix 2.

The 2nd manner of measuring squad functions is derived from personality questionnaires ; equations to deduce squad functions have been developed in concurrence with personality questionnaire publishing houses. In peculiar. Cattell’s Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire ( 16PF ; Cattell et Al. . 1970 ) and the Occupational Personality Questionnaire ( OPQ ; Saville et Al. . 1992 ) have been used ( see Dulewicz. 1995 ) .

Reviewing the Evidence

This reappraisal draws upon 43 substantial surveies of the squad function theoretical account utilizing the TRSPI. OAS and personality stock lists. A table demoing the intent of each survey. its purposes. instruments and sample used along with the cardinal findings is available from the first writer. Psychometric grounds. Eight surveies have analysed the psychometric belongingss of the TRSPI and two have reported consequences from the OAS. Initial ratings were critical ( Furnham et al. . 1993a. 1993b ; Broucek and Randell. 1996 ) and one survey arrived at assorted decisions ( Beck et al. . 1999 ) . Recent surveies have been more supportive of the TRSPI’s dependability and construction ( Swailes and McIntyre-Bhatty. 2002. 2003 ) . Since the first unfavorable judgment of the TRSPI ( Furnham et al. . 1993a ) . other research workers have raised concerns about the statistical belongingss of the original stock lists every bit good as their theoretical footing ( Broucek and Randell. 1996 ) . An of import issue impacting psychometric rating of the TRSPI stems from its ipsative nature which is outlined in Appendix 2. Evidence for the TRSPI. Furnham et Al. ( 1993a ) reported low dependability values for three different versions of the TRSPI.

Correlations between squad functions were different for a normatively scored ( Likert graduated table ) version ( M = 0. 36 ) and the original ipsative version ( M = -0. 29 ) . Factor constructions were besides different for normative values ( two chiseled undertaking and socioemotional factors ) and for ipsative marking ( four bipolar factors ) . Both Senior ( 1998 ) and Beck et Al. ( 1999 ) . in their several explorative factor analyses. besides reported an implicit in four factor construction for the ipsative version of the TRSPI. However. the ipsative design of the TRSPI was calculated and any comparing of signifiers should acknowledge that transforming the ipsative construction of the instrument may change its nature. ( See Belbin ( 1993b ) for a reproof of the normative version. ) In the ipsative signifier the mean interscale correlativity will be negative ( Meade. 2004 ) whereas in a normative signifier graduated tables are allowed to correlate freely. In this context. Furnham et Al. ( 1993a ) raised concerns about the theoretical footing of the stock list and a deficiency of grounds for its psychometric belongingss. observing that the trial was ‘neither theoretically nor through empirical observation derived as Belbin developed his squad function typology based on observatory and inductive. instead than theoretically deductive means’ ( p. 247 ) with a limited sample of 78 directors.

Similarly. Broucek and Randell ( 1996 ) raised concerns about the internal consistence and discriminant cogency of the TRSPI and the OAS. They besides noted that both trials could non be considered as parallel signifiers of the same concept. The mean correlativity between squad functions was 0. 27 for ipsative marking and 0. 42 for normative marking ; higher correlativities were expected from the self-reported informations collected by both trials. Similarly. Senior and Swailes ( 1998 ) besides reported that both TRSPI and OAS did non demo high convergent cogency as merely five squad functions showed important correlativities with an norm of 0. 27. Broucek and Randell ( 1996 ) besides reported that different correlativities were found between the normative and ipsative versions of the TRSPI and the NEO-PI- ( R ) personality graduated table although 8 out of 19 anticipations for the ipsative version and 14 out of 19 for the normative version were right hypothesized.

Different correlativity values were taken as ‘dramatic grounds of the type of deformation which usage of an ipsative instrument produces’ ( p. 401 ) . Similarly. Fisher et Al. ( 1996 ) looked at the correspondence between the TRSPI and 16PF and found low correlativity values on the cogency diagonal. Broucek and Randell besides tested the discriminant cogency of the OAS against the NEO-PI ( R ) Big Five personality factors. although Fisher et Al. ( 2001a. pp. 125–6 ) noted that such analysis was dependent on the perpendicularity of the personality factors and. every bit far as the factors have been found to be oblique ( Costa and McCrae. 1992 ) . any decision sing the discriminant cogency of the OAS should be taken carefully.

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