Team Learning

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Team learning.
Hackman (1983) defines team as a social system that consists of at least two members who share responsibility for a team product or service, recognize themselves as a group and are recognized as such by others as well. According to Senge (1990, p.220), “Team learning is the process of aligning and developing the capacity of a team to create the results its members, truly desire. It builds on the discipline of developing shared vision. It also builds on personal mastery, for talented teams are made up of talented individuals. But shared vision and talent are not enough. The world is full of teams of talented individuals who share a vision for a while, yet fail to learn. The great jazz ensemble has talent and a shared vision (even if they don't discuss it), but what really matters is that the musicians know how to play together.” But why should we focus on team learning instead of emphasising on individual professionalism, experience and personal values? The fact is that many of today's decisions that made in the companies, and often the most important ones, created by the groups or designed to be implemented by the groups of employees. As Senge (1990, p.220) continues, “Individual learning, at some level, is irrelevant for organizational learning. Individuals learn all the time and yet there is no organizational learning. But if teams learn, they become a microcosm for learning throughout the organization. Insights gained are put into action. Skills developed can propagate to other individuals and to other teams (although there is no guarantee that they will propagate). The team's accomplishments can set the tone and establish a standard for learning together for the larger organization.” Many other authors support and define Senge’s approach to the team learning “social phenomenon” (Kilgore, 2001). Luthans (1995) refers Katzenback and Smith (1993) to differentiate between teams and traditional work groups by pointing out that teams go beyond traditional formal work groups by creating a collective output as well as synergistic effects. Ancona and Chong (1999) have found that teams enhance the ability to survive, improve and adapt to the changing circumstances. Chang and Lee (2001) have revealed that an organization learns through acquiring, retaining and transferring knowledge. Moreover, Chang and Lee (2001) have also cited the findings of Kilgore (2001) on collective learning by asserting that certain learning behaviors originated from collective system and social interaction lead to the emergence of collective learning products such as shared ideas, beliefs, mental models, knowledge and action and help individuals to engage in integration process. Learning in the team can be defined as the process of acquiring knowledge through experience which leads to an enduring change in behavior (Buchanan and Huczynski 2004). Loewen and Loo (2004) in the context of importance of team learning quote words of Senge, Roberts, Ross, Smith and Kleiner (1994, p.354) as ‘history has brought us to a moment where teams are recognized as a critical component of every enterprise - the predominant unit for decision making and getting things done’. Mathieu, Rapp and Gilson (2008) regard team as collectives, who exist to perform organizationally relevant tasks, share one or more common goals, interact socially, exhibit task interdependencies, maintain and manage boundaries, and are embedded in an organizational context that sets boundaries, constrains the team, and influences exchanges with other units in the broader entity. Moreover, Christopher et al. (2003) found that the use of teams provides the merits of empowering people to utilize their abilities effectively which allows the managers to focus their attention on strategic priorities instead of just supervising the subordinates which eventually not only improves their efficiency (Entrekin and Court 2001) but also brings knowledge, skills and experience to the workplace...
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