Management Challenges and Symptoms
Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski
Chapter 19: Collective Wisdom as an Oxymoron: Team-based Structures as Impediments to Learning
Michael D. Johnson and John R. Hollenbeck Interest in team-level information processing and learning has burgeoned in recent years and several theoretical models have been proposed to describe this phenomenon. Although a consensus model of team learning has not yet emerged, the theoretical and empirical treatments of the subject appear to agree that team learning is qualitatively diﬀerent from individual learning. For example, Argote et al. (2001) suggested that one major shift in thinking about team learning versus individual learning is that team members must coordinate their actions with each other rather than acting alone. The actions of team members aﬀect the team system whether or not they intend to, which can either help or inhibit team learning. Similarly, Hinsz et al. (1997) noted the importance of communication – in terms of sharing information, ideas and cognitive processes – to team-level learning. Larson and Christensen (1993) noted that having multiple conceptualizations of a problem facing the team is a uniquely group-level phenomenon. Interestingly, in outlining the unique characteristics of team-level learning, all of these conceptualizations draw upon individual-level models as a basis for understanding the similarities and diﬀerences between learning at each level (Hinsz et al., 1997). Because team-level learning is qualitatively diﬀerent from individual-level learning, however, we suggest that these models are inadequate in describing the challenges of learning at the team level. Rather, a true team-level model of learning must incorporate not only the cognitive and aﬀective intrapersonal factors that aﬀect the learning process,...
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