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Lean Systems

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  • Feb. 11, 2013
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Psychological Safety
and Learning Behavior
in Work Teanns
Amy Ednnondson
Harvard University

This paper presents a model of team learning and tests it
in a multimethod field study. It introduces the construct
of team psychological safety—a shared beiief held by
members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking—and models the effects of team psychological safety and team efficacy together on learning and performance in organizational work teams. Results

of a study of 51 work teams in a manufacturing company, measuring antecedent, process, and outcome variables, show that team psychological safety is associated with learning behavior, but team efficacy is not, when

controlling for team psychological safety. As predicted,
learning behavior mediates between team psychological
safety and team performance. The results support an integrative perspective in which both team structures, such as context support and team leader coaching, and shared
beliefs shape team outcomes.*
A growing reliance on teams in changing and uncertain organizational environments creates a managerial imperative to understand the factors that enable team learning. Although
much has been v/r'itten about teams and about learning in
organizations, our understanding of learning in teams remains limited. A review of the team effectiveness and organizational learning literatures reveals markedly different approaches and a lack of cross-fertilization between them. An emerging literature on group learning, with theoreticai papers on groups as information-processing systems and a number

of empirical studies examining information exchange in laboratory groups, has not investigated the learning processes of real vyork teams (cf. Argote, Gruenfeld, and Naquin, 1999).
Although most studies of organizational learning have been
field-based, empirical research on group learning has primarily taken place in the laboratory, and little research has been done to understand the...