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Training in the team enviornment
September 19, 2009 at 7:13 pm #81007
Perhaps a worthwhile read for all level of leaders
Download from Harvard Business School site
Title: Repetition of Interaction and Learning: An Experimental Analysis
Published: September 16, 2009
Paper Released: August 2009
Authors: Bradley R. Staats, Francesca Gino, and Gary P. Pisano
As the global economy grows increasingly knowledge-based, organizations in a wide variety of settings, from manufacturing to service operations, rely increasingly on project teams. Organizational performance is therefore strongly affected by the learning that occurs within teams. But how do teams learn best? This study examines whether and how learning in teams is dependent on the teams' prior experience working together. Findings may help managers to design well-functioning learning organizations. Key concepts include:
* Teams with prior experience working together ("familiar teams") initially perform no differently than newly composed teams ("unfamiliar teams"). However, the familiar teams learn at a faster rate compared with the unfamiliar teams.
* If repetition of interaction (i.e., prior experience with team members) plays an important role in team learning, then the decision to keep a team intact may be an important operational lever.
* The results call into question a favorite improvement approach of many corporations: major restructurings or reorganizations. These restructurings may have significant, and unaccounted for, costs if they disrupt existing relationships.
The learning curve is used to investigate how increasing cumulative experience yields improved performance. Experience, however, can take many forms. Building on recent studies on learning in operations, we distinguish between repetition of task (i.e., prior experience with the task) and repetition of interaction (i.e., prior experience with team members). Repetition of interaction may improve learning, since experience working together aids in the identification, transfer, and application of knowledge among members within a group. Additionally, experience need not be constrained to one task. Prior work examining the relationship of multiple tasks (i.e., varied experience) and learning by groups finds inconsistent results. We hypothesize that repetition of interaction may help explain this difference, as familiar teams may be able to use the knowledge gained from the concurrent completion of multiple tasks while unfamiliar teams may not. Using an experimental study we find that while repetition of interaction has no effect on initial performance, it has a persistent effect on learning. By separately examining the repetition of interaction and repetition of task our work offers new insights and direction for the study of learning in operations.
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