Building ‘Strong Teams’: Combining theory, practice and context to develop collaborative practice in teams.

admin | March 9, 2018 0 Comments

Winner – Best Paper “How To” category – APS 12th Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference, 2017


Building ‘Strong Teams’: Combining theory, practice and context to develop collaborative practice in teams.

Hooper, M.(Carousel Consulting), & Clarke, T. (Seqwater)

Aim: The aim of this workshop is to share the approach and methodology we developed to build collaborative practice within two different teams in an organisation with both field and office based staff. This ‘how to’ session will give participants insight into the tools we used, the outcomes of our approach, and the importance of context when creating programs like ours. Background: We regard collaborative practice as the positive habits or behavioural norms teams have developed around collaboration. Collaboration within teams has been associated with increased team performance particularly around innovation. Much of our understanding comes from research conducted on focussed project teams and the relationship with project performance (for example Chiocchio, F., Forgues, D., Paradis, D., & Iordanvo, I. (2011)). A specific project with clear outcomes tends to concentrate the norms and values needed to get the job done within constraints. However, many teams need to practice collaboration within daily operations without a project specific focus. Establishing these team behaviours is difficult despite the volume of popular management literature on the topic of collaboration. There are also many theoretical approaches to explain team and group behaviour however these often require translation and in many cases trial and error to be effective. In addition, many practical approaches are not based on theoretical underpinnings to support the purported outcomes. We started with some of the key concepts of Social Identity Theory applied to organisations (Haslam, S. A., 2004) (such as that group membership is an important source of identity for individuals), and the related ASPIRe model (Eggins, R. A., Reynolds, K. J., & Haslam, S. A. (2003)), (workgroup membership facilitates trust, communication, performance and productivity). We then added concepts of psychological safety (Edmondson, A. (1999)) (collaboration requires interpersonal risk taking in “safe” environments), and created a program to strengthen collaborative practice in teams. Approach:This workshop is a case study “walk through” and includes some interactive exercises. Participants will have access to presentation material as well as the reference list we used to create our program. Conclusion:Practitioners and people managers are more often asked to focus on collaboration as innovation and business improvement increasingly become key to organisational performance. Sharing what we learned provides practitioners with two examples they can take away and explore in their own organisational contexts.


Chiocchio, F., Forgues, D., Paradis, D., & Iordanvo, I. (2011). Teamwork in Integrated Design Projects: Understanding the Effects of Trust, Conflict, and Collaboration on Performance. Project Management Journal, 42(6), 78-91.

Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behaviour in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(2), 350-383.

Eggins, R. A., Reynolds, K. J., & Haslam, S. A. (2003). Working with identities: The ASPIRe model of organizational planning, negotiation and development. In S. A. Haslam, D. van Knippenberg, M. J. Platow, & N. Ellemers (Eds.), Social identity at work: Developing theory for organizational practice (pp. 241–257). New York: Taylor & Francis.

  1. A. Haslam (2004). Psychology in Organizations: The Social Identity Approach., (Los Angeles: Sage), 80.

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