A revised model of team roles and some research findings

Tony Manning, Richard Parker, Graham Pogson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    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. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)287-296
    Number of pages10
    JournalIndustrial and Commercial Training
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • Management development
    • Personality
    • Psychological tests
    • Team working
    • Training


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