Testing Belbin’s team role theory of effective group functioning: do mixed teams perform better than shaper teams?
Belbin’s Team-Role Theory is extensively used as a counselling and team development tool by organizations and management consultancies throughout the UK. However, there is little empirical support for his work, largely due to scant research. This study sought to redress this situation by testing Belbin’s proposal that teams in which a wide range of team roles are represented, perform better than those where there is an imbalance of roles because certain roles are overrepresented. The task performance of six teams of four individuals identified as shapers by the Team-Role Self-Perception Inventory (Belbin, 1981), was compared with that of six mixed teams of four individuals; one co-ordinator, one plant, one completer finisher, and one team worker. The results suggest that consistent with Belbin’s role balance hypothesis, the ‘mixed’ teams performed better than the shaper teams. Some possible explanations and implications of the findings are discussed.