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External learning activities and team performance: a multimethod field study

Author: Bresman, Henrik INSEAD Area: Organisational BehaviourIn: Organization Science, vol. 21, no. 1, January/February 2010 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 81-96.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: This paper reports on a study of external team learning activities and their performance effects. It proposes and tests a model that consists of two sets of external learning activities: those that allow a team to learn from external experienced others about its task (vicarious learning activities) and those that allow a team to learn from external sources about its context (contextual learning activities). Qualitative data from six teams in one pharmaceutical firm are used to develop measures. Survey data from 62 additional teams in six other pharmaceutical firms are used, first to test the measurement model using structural equation modeling and second to test the relationships between external learning activities and team performance using random-effects regression models. Results show that vicarious learning activities are more strongly associated with performance when teams engage in more internal learning activities. Furthermore, vicarious learning activities in the absence of sufficient amounts of internal learning activities can hurt performance. The positive performance associated with contextual learning activities, by contrast, is unaffected by the level of internal learning activities. The paper contributes by distinguishing between two kinds of external learning activities and showing that they put different demands on teams to be effective. This is important because it helps us better understand how teams engage effectively in learning activities across their boundaries
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This paper reports on a study of external team learning activities and their performance effects. It proposes and tests a model that consists of two sets of external learning activities: those that allow a team to learn from external experienced others about its task (vicarious learning activities) and those that allow a team to learn from external sources about its context (contextual learning activities). Qualitative data from six teams in one pharmaceutical firm are used to develop measures. Survey data from 62 additional teams in six other pharmaceutical firms are used, first to test the measurement model using structural equation modeling and second to test the relationships between external learning activities and team performance using random-effects regression models. Results show that vicarious learning activities are more strongly associated with performance when teams engage in more internal learning activities. Furthermore, vicarious learning activities in the absence of sufficient amounts of internal learning activities can hurt performance. The positive performance associated with contextual learning activities, by contrast, is unaffected by the level of internal learning activities. The paper contributes by distinguishing between two kinds of external learning activities and showing that they put different demands on teams to be effective. This is important because it helps us better understand how teams engage effectively in learning activities across their boundaries

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