Team roles and their relevance for successful teamwork


Although teamwork has become more frequent in a variety of sectors and settings, there is a scarcity of psychological research on role-specific behavior in teams. Belbin (1981) suggested that successful teamwork requires the performance of seven (informal) team roles.
Several models of team roles have been suggested comprising between 4 and 12 such informal roles. However, only few studies have empirically examined the validity of these models, whereas the few existing studies cast doubts on the validity and usefulness of existing team role models (e.g., Fisher, Hunter, & Macrosson, 2001). Further, for most team role models no psychometrically sound measures have been developed.
In 2013, the VIA Institute on Character developed a new model of successful teamwork consisting of seven informal team roles: Idea Creator, Information Gatherer, Decision Maker, Implementer, Influencer, Energizer, and Relationship Manager. Based on this model, an instrument has been developed that assesses the degree to which one masterfully performs these roles (Ruch, Gander, Platt, & Hofmann, in press).

Aims of the project

The main aim of the project is studying the effects of informal team roles on the well-being and performance of teams while also considering influences of character strengths. Further, effects of the convergence between ideal team roles (i.e., team roles one would show under ideal circumstances), and actual team roles (i.e., team roles that are shown in a current team) are examined. Finally, we are interested in studying how a team should be ideally composed with regard to team roles for maximizing its performance and well-being.

This project should contribute to the understanding of basic mechanisms in teamwork and guide practical applications with regard to the composition of healthy and productive teams.