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Teamwork and high performance work organisation

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Impact of teamwork on learning environment

This section investigates how teamwork influences a company’s learning environment. Pedler et al (1989) defined a learning organisation as an organisation that ‘facilitates and promotes the education of all its members and systematically transforms itself’. The assumption is that teamwork creates an environment for shared responsibility, knowledge, and both continuous professional and personal development of employees. This study will analyse the learning and professional growth opportunities of employees working in teams, in comparison with other workers.

The EWCS 2000/2001 did not pose a question that would directly map the influence of introducing teamwork on a company’s learning environment. Therefore, the learning environment is assessed instead by reference to the three questions listed below, which may be regarded as relevant indicators. It is important to note the difference between the provision of training and the creation of a learning environment or so-called ‘learning organisation’, as mentioned by the UK correspondent.

The analysis draws on the following questions:

  • Over the past 12 months, have you undergone training paid for or provided by your employer to improve your skills or not?
  • Generally, does your main paid job involve, or not, learning new things?
  • Generally, does your main paid job involve, or not, complex tasks?

Analysis of the data confirmed the hypothesis that working in a team is closely associated with an environment typified by the possibility to learn new things and perform complex tasks. Teamworkers are more likely to learn new things in their work than those not working in teams are (Figure 10). This association was confirmed at the level of both groups of countries as a whole (EU15 and ACC12) and at the level of individual countries, where significant differences were found for all countries, with the exception of Cyprus. Figure 12 shows that teamworkers in the EU15 are 13 percentage points more likely to learn new things at work than those not working in teams. Similarly, in the ACC12, the difference between teamworkers learning new things and non-teamworkers learning new things reaches 15 percentage points.

Figure 10: Teamwork and learning new things


Source: EWCS 2000/2001

The same positive tendency exists between teamwork and the possibility for employees to take part in training paid for by the employer. In both the EU15 and ACC12, a significant difference was found, at a significant level of p≤0.001, showing that teamworkers have a greater chance of taking part in training. The difference between teamworkers and non-teamworkers in taking part in training is 13 percentage points in the EU15 and seven percentage points in the ACC12. Analysis at national level confirms a significant difference in access to training for teamworkers in 11 of the 16 country reports, excluding Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania and Sweden. Figure 11 shows the percentages for the individual countries.

Figure 11: Teamwork and training paid for by employer


Source: EWCS 2000/2001

The logistic regression later in the study also confirms the association between the incidence of teamwork and the learning environment in an organisation. In addition, the results of surveys from individual European countries support the conclusions of quantitative analysis of the EWCS 2000/2001 data.

The Bulgarian national working conditions survey 2005 finds that: ‘some 16% of respondents received training in the previous 12 months, 10.5% of whom were teamworkers and 5.5% of whom were not. Within the group of teamworkers, 71% were trained, compared with only 28% of the non-teamworkers. Teamwork definitely impacts positively the opportunity of training.’

The Bulgarian research also confirmed that teamworkers more often learn new things in their job than those not working in teams do; the difference between both sets of workers is 20 percentage points. According to the qualitative teamwork study in Bulgaria in 2005, managers also believe that ‘after implementation of teamwork, the teamworkers become more motivated to learn new things and they actually learn from each other in the process of work’.

The Finnish Quality of Work Life Survey also reports a positive correlation between teamwork and employee training. ‘Employees who do teamwork have generally better possibilities for receiving training and for developing their skills than people who do not work in teams.’

The Hungarian regional surveys on manpower and knowledge use (2001) and a model of cooperation between economic and vocational training institutions (2003) also found that teamwork has a positive impact on the intensity of training.

However, several surveys identified no association between teamwork and the possibility of learning new things at work or taking part in training. In relation to the indicator of employee training, such surveys included the Czech survey of Quality of Working Life 2000 and the Dutch TNO survey of labour relations 2005. Likewise, the Spanish survey of Quality of Life in the Workplace found no link between a ‘stimulating working environment (learning environment) and the presence of teamwork practices’.

Nevertheless, overall, the vast majority of the national correspondents highlighted the positive impacts of teamwork on the company’s learning environment.

Figure 12: Teamwork and indicators of learning environment


Source: EWCS 2000/2001

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Page last updated: 12 February, 2007
About this document
  • ID: TN0507TR01
  • Author: Renáta Vašková
  • Country: EU Countries
  • Language: EN
  • Publication date: 12-02-2007
  • Subject: Work organisation