As organizations increasingly utilize teams to accomplish organizational goals, understanding why and how teams learn and how they use what they learn is of growing interest to scholars and practitioners. Team learning is defined as activities that teams engage in to acquire, share, and combine knowledge. This is typically an ongoing process for teams that includes reflection and action. Common team learning behaviors include sharing information, asking questions, seeking and giving feedback, reflecting on performance, and discussing errors. Team learning is seen as a process that facilitates meaningful team outcomes such as effectiveness, performance, innovation, and creativity. The most commonly studied antecedents of team learning include team psychological safety, team composition, team training, and leadership. Team learning can also be viewed through an emergent state lens, commonly known as team cognition, which captures how individual knowledge emerges to become shared or utilized effectively by teams. As many scholars use the terms team and group interchangeably, we generally include work on both team learning and group learning in this bibliography. However, we do focus on teams and groups specifically within organizations. While some empirical work may use samples that include students, this review largely excludes work from educational research on how student groups learn, how teachers teach groups, and how individual students learn in a group or team context.
Books and Chapter Reviews
Most comprehensive reviews of team learning include books, book chapters, handbook chapters, and large reviews in peer-reviewed journals. Sessa and London 2008 is a book on the topic of group learning. Handbook chapters such as Bell, et al. 2012 and Tindale, et al. 2001 are generally more comprehensive and provide both theoretical and empirical reviews. Many books on teams or organizational learning include specific chapters on team learning. Three chapters provide general and high-level reviews of the topic and related domains: Kramer, et al. 2015; Argote 2013; and Argote, et al. 2001. Edmondson, et al. 2007 reviews the literature on team learning within three major research streams that have developed. Finally, Wilson, et al. 2007 provides a theory-centered framework with a special focus on identifying gaps in the literature and future research.
Argote, Linda. “Micro Foundations of Organizational Learning: Group Learning.” In Organizational Learning: Creating, Retaining and Transferring Knowledge. 2d ed. By Linda Argote, 115–146. New York: Springer, 2013.
This book chapter is a good high-level review of the literature about team learning processes. Although the second edition was updated in 2013, many references remain very old, so it is not the most up-to-date review.
Argote, Linda, Deborah Gruenfeld, and Charles Naquin. “Group Learning in Organizations.” In Groups at Work: Theory and Research. Edited by Marlene E. Turner, 369–412. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001.
In this chapter, the authors present a comprehensive summary of multiple constructs relating to or influencing team learning in organizations.
Bell, Bradford S., Steve W. J. Kozlowski, and Sabrina Blawath. “Team Learning: A Theoretical Integration and Review.” In The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psychology. Vol. 2. Edited by Steve W. J. Kozlowski, 2859–2909. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
In this handbook chapter, the authors present a comprehensive review of team learning theories and research. It is a highly useful starting reference suitable for students or researchers at any level.
Edmondson, Amy C., James R. Dillon, and Kathryn S. Roloff. “Three Perspectives on Team Learning: Outcome Independence, Task Mastery, and Group Processes.” Academy of Management Annals 1.1 (2007): 269–314.
The authors review the social psychology, organizational behavior, and management literature on team learning. They explain three major research traditions that have developed around team learning: outcome improvement, task mastery, and team process.
Kramer, William S., Natassia Savage, and Eduardo Salas. “Learning in Project Teams.” In The Psychology and Management of Project Teams. Edited by François Chiocchio, E. Kevin Kelloway, and Brian Hobbs, 457–478. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
This book chapter reviews literature in the project management and organizational psychology literature relating specifically to learning in project teams.
Sessa, Valerie I., and Manuel London. Work Group Learning: Understanding, Improving and Assessing How Groups Learn in Organizations. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2008.
This is one of the most accessible and comprehensive books on the topic of group learning in organizations. It provides both strong theoretical reviews and empirical evidence and is a perfect starting place for anyone interested in understanding the broad topic of group learning.
Tindale, R. Scott, Helen M. Meisenhelder, Amanda A. Dykema-Engblade, and Michael A. Hogg. “Shared Cognition in Small Groups.” In Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Group Processes. Edited by Michael A. Hogg and R. Scott Tindale, 1–30. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001.
This handbook chapter details the social psychology perspective of shared cognition in small groups and is a great introduction and review of this topic for students of psychology.
Wilson, Jeanne M., Paul S. Goodman, and Matthew A. Cronin. “Group Learning.” Academy of Management Review 32.4 (2007): 1041–1059.
The authors clarify what team learning is and is not. They also present a framework for understanding team learning processes. Special attention is devoted to identifying gaps in the literature and future research. This is a suitable resource for more advanced graduate students.
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