Belbin or higher allocation of points, that role


Belbin suggested that individuals contribute
to a team both functionally and in their team role. Whilst their functional
role is the level or experience and expertise, their team role emerges from the
individual’s personality characteristics (Belbin, 1981). He
suggested that depending on an individual’s personality, they will display
certain behaviours. Whilst there are an infinite number of behaviours, Belbin
recognised a small range of useful behaviours that would effectively contribute
towards team performance. He grouped these behaviours into eight clusters
called team roles: resource investigator, team worker, implementer, completer
finisher, monitor evaluator, plant, coordinator and shaper. A ninth role was
developed in 1993 named specialist (Pritchard and Stanton, 1999).
Belbin’s team role theory works on the role balance hypothesis whereby teams
with a balanced mixture of roles will perform tasks more effectively than teams
containing fewer or similar roles. Although a team doesn’t need all nine roles,
to be successful individuals should balance with each other’s’ strengths and
weaknesses (Belbin, 1981).


To identify an individual’s team role, a
colleague would complete an Observer Assessment Checklist (OAS), and the
individual would complete Belbin’s Team-Role Self-Perception Inventory (BTRSPI)
(Belbin, 2010). The OAS captured an observed
assessment of the individual by someone who knew the respondent well (Belbin 1993). The BTRSPI involves individuals assessing
statements which describe certain behaviour in a team, and allocating points to
the statement that they thought best described their own behaviour. If a role had
a 70% or higher allocation of points, that role is the most natural of the
participant (van de Water et al., 2008). Using these
indicators, Belbin claimed he could predict team performance based on the
combination and balance of team roles in a team.

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Although Belbin’s OAS and BTRSPI are
extensively used in management teams for selecting, counselling and developing
(Hogg, 1990), his research has had limited


One problem of Belbin’s research is the
use of the BTRSPI. Furnham et al (1993) criticises
the psychometric properties of the measure, which considers the reliability and
validity of the instrument. Although Belbin proposes the team roles that result
from the inventory can be used to design a high-performance team, he never
disclosed how he developed the BTRSPI or the meaning of the scores which result
from completing the inventory. What he does disclose is that the highest team
role score will indicate the best suited role, and the lowest score is the
individual’s area of weakness. Therefore, little is known about the reliability
and validity of the research. Furthermore, the BTRSPI is an ipsative test where
the individual has to read hypothetical situations and distribute ten points
among sentences which they believe most describe their own behaviour. Again, the
reliability and validity of the test is questioned and its usefulness doubted (Johnson et al., 1988).



Belbin suggests that a team’s performance
will be adversely affected if all the roles are not naturally represented













Criticisms of Belbin’s team role theory
have led to other researchers re-defining the concept of a team role, and
suggesting a different model of personality. Manning et al
(2006) recognised the social aspect of a role, and re-defined team
role as having three important factors: personality, team role expectation and
team role orientation. Personality is about the individual’s behaviours as
Belbin suggested, but further dimensions involve team role expectation which considers
what the expectations of the role are, and team role orientation which
considers the autonomy and person’s commitment to that position.



The “Big Five” factor model is a revised
team role model exploring the relationships between personality and team role
behaviour. The instruments used to research this model overcome weaknesses
identified in those used by Belbin, and therefore is a more credible model. The
Big Five model suggests individuals are located on five different dimensions of
personality: extroversion, tender-mindedness, conscientiousness, anxiety and
openness. It was found that there was a relationship between individual’s
behaviour which is expressed in the team role Belbin suggested, and personality
attributes. This supports Belbin’s idea that there is a link between behaviour
and personality characteristics (Manning et al., 2006).


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