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Educational Research Review 10 (2013) 116132

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Educational Research Review


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Review

Experiences from employees with team learning in a vocational learning or work setting: A systematic review of qualitative evidence
K. Hannes a,, E. Raes b, K. Vangenechten a, M. Heyvaert a, F. Dochy b
a b

Methodology of Educational Sciences Research Group, KU Leuven, Belgium Professional Learning and Development, Corporate Training and Lifelong Learning Research Group, KU Leuven, Belgium

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
This qualitative evidence synthesis aimed to integrate ndings on the experiences of employees with team learning in the context of their work or vocational learning setting. The meta-aggregative approach to qualitative evidence synthesis was used to summarize the ndings from original research papers in which the experiential level of employees was investigated. The ndings suggest that employees learn for different reasons and in different ways. Three major lines of actions for practice and policy were developed from the synthesis. A rst advice is to stimulate communication, boundary crossing and knowledge sharing and establish an enabling learning environment that triggers positive factors for team learning. Secondly, it is important to analyse the authority structures that inuence the relationships within a team, minimise the power inequalities that ow from hierarchical differences, and support and enable team leaders to inuence the power differences inside their team. Finally, it is recommended to try to recognise the authenticity, the commitment and devotion of employees toward team learning, to stimulate but not to intervene in the natural process of team learning, and to consider the place of reection and action in this process. 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 22 November 2012 Revised 2 August 2013 Accepted 5 October 2013 Available online 24 October 2013 Keywords: Team learning Vocational learning Employees Qualitative evidence synthesis Systematic review

Contents 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1. Review questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2. Defining the main concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2.1. Teams or groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2.2. Team learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Methodology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1. Search strategy for identification of studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2. Criteria for considering studies in this review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.1. Type of studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.2. Type of participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.3. Type of outcome measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.3. Critical appraisal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 117 117 118 118 118 118 119 119 119 119 120

2.

Corresponding author. Address: Methods of Educational Sciences Research Group, KU Leuven, Andreas Vesaliusstraat 2, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. Tel.: +32 16 32 62 20. E-mail address: Karin.hannes@ppw.kuleuven.be (K. Hannes).
1747-938X/$ - see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2013.10.002

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3.

4.

2.4. Data extraction and synthesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1. Synthesis 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2. Synthesis 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3. Synthesis 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1. Implications for practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2. Research limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3. Implications for future research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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1. Introduction Effectiveness, efciency and innovation have become key factors to the survival of modern organisations (Cameron, 1986; Davenport & Prusak, 1998). Teams are increasingly expected to generate effective and efcient results (Sessa & London, 2008). As a consequence, the responsibility of teams for the workload within and the output of an organisation has grown (Devine, Clayton, Philips, Dunford, & Melner, 1999). In order to be competitive in a changing environment, organisations as well as their employees should engage in a process of continuous learning (Edmondson, 2002; Sessa & London, 2008). Apart from stimulating individual learning (Slavin, 1996; Sweet & Michaelsen, 2007), it increases a teams effectiveness (Crossan, Lane, White & Djurfeldt, 1995; Van den Bossche, Gijselaers, Segers, & Kirschner, 2006; West, 1999) and contributes to organisational learning and innovation (Crossan, Lane & White, 1999). The concept of team learning needs to be considered with caution, as it means different things to different people in different situations. It has frequently been investigated from a conceptual point of view (Decuyper, Dochy, & Van den Bossche, 2010; Senge, 1990; Sessa & London, 2006). Several researchers have dened team learning as a group level phenomenon that generates potential benecial effects (Dillenbourg, Baker, Blaye, & OMalley, 1996). The strong focus on effectiveness is mostly driven by the need to think in terms of performance outcomes of team members. It has been criticised by Decuyper and colleagues (2010), who argue that going beyond inputs and outputs, in explicitly focusing on team learning processes, is important in understanding why team learning outputs occur. Establishing a rm causal link between those who have been subject to team learning processes and their actual performance is still challenging. Allen and Hecht (2004), in their study on the romance of teams, showed that teams are not as effective as many perceive them to be. According to the authors, the attraction of team work is not based on actual performance benets, but rather on psychological ones. First, there are socio-emotional benets from being involved in a team: reduced uncertainty about the work, increased satisfaction and fullment of social needs. Second, managers, employees and lay persons may also gain some competence-related benets, such as an increased personal responsibility for the success of the team, decreased personal responsibility for team failures and higher self-evaluations of individual and group performance. There are several other aspects that may impact on employees actual performance: the meaningfulness they assign to team learning, whether or not they believe the learning processes they are involved in are appropriate or feasible etc. This seems to suggest that in order to better understand the why and how of team learning it is important to look into how team learning is experienced by its group members. Qualitative research evidence on the lived experiences of stakeholders with team learning has not yet systematically been synthesized. It is nevertheless important to consider, mainly because the perceptions of employees can increase our understanding of why certain team learning processes fail or succeed, what employees value in team learning and what may need to be adapted for a more successful implementation of team learning programs. 1.1. Review questions The main research question we address in this qualitative evidence synthesis (QES) with team learning as our main topic of interest is: How is team learning experienced by employees? We investigate the meaning of team learning, inventory the overall opinions and beliefs about team learning, and identify potential positive and negative aspects of team learning. A secondary question we address is: Which implications for team learning practice and team learning policy can be drawn from the synthesized ndings? Our implication for practice and policy section in this review will be grounded in the suggestions for improvement that have been offered by employees in the original studies as well as our own understanding and insights derived from synthesizing the ndings of these studies. 1.2. Dening the main concepts One of the important features of a QES is that it attempts to synthesize ndings from original, qualitative studies in order to create a new understanding or develop lines of actions for practice and policy. It compares and contrasts the content of

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several original research articles in order to develop overarching descriptions that build on the meaning employees assign to team learning. We considered it benecial to work with an unambiguous and understandable denition of teams and team learning to develop a transparent set of inclusion- and exclusion criteria for our review. In what follows, we will draw on previous research in order to conceptualise teams and team learning for our review. 1.2.1. Teams or groups The words team and group are frequently used as synonyms, however not always clearly dened. They are often said to even suggest different meanings. For many, team connotes more than group, namely that groups become teams when they develop a sense of shared commitment and strive for synergy among members (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993). FirthCozens (1998) argues that spelling out the criteria that makes a team does not always help the recognition of where a team begins and ends, who is a member and who is not, how much overlap between teams is useful and how much is divisive. A variety of very similar denitions can be found in the literature (e.g., Guzzo & Dickson, 1996; Hackman, 1987). In line with other authors (e.g., Boon, Raes, Kyndt, & Dochy, 2013; Decuyper et al., 2010; Devine, 2002) we choose to follow the denition of Cohen and Bailey (1997) because to our opinion it entails all the important aspects of the denitions developed by other authors. The focus in this denition is on ve applicable and straightforward criteria that distinguish a team from a group of people and are therefore convenient to integrate in a screening checklist evaluating the eligibility of studies for inclusion: A team is a collection of individuals who are (1) interdependent in their tasks, (2) who share responsibility for outcomes, (3) who see themselves and who are seen by others as an intact social entity embedded in one or more larger social systems (for example, business unit or the corporation), (5) and who manage their relationships across organizational boundaries (Cohen & Bailey, 1997, p. 241). 1.2.2. Team learning The current literature proposes over 30 different denitions and theoretical frameworks on team learning that are currently used and applied to frame research studies (Decuyper et al., 2010). Senge (1990) originally dened team learning as the process of aligning and developing the capacity of a team to create the results its members truly desire (p. 236). The denition of Decuyper et al. (2010) is the result of a systematic review of the team learning literature. It is integrative and a clear and practical conceptualisation of team learning. We therefore adopted this working denition for the review: Team learning is a compilation of team-level processes that circularly generate change or improvement for teams, team members, organizations, etc. Being a compilation, it consists of changing combinations of different types of processes (sharing, co-construction, constructive conict, team reexivity, boundary crossing, team activity, storage and retrieval). Working circularly, it dynamically translates a complex body of inuences from multiple levels into different types of outputs at multiple levels, which in turn inuence team learning (Decuyper et al., 2010, p. 128). 2. Methodology A lot of different methods for QES have recently been developed and reported on (Dixon-Woods, Agarwal, Jones, Young, Sutton, 2005; Hannes & Lockwood, 2012). We opted for the Joanna Briggs meta-aggregative approach to synthesis, designed to mirror the procedures used in the systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and other quantitative research (Pearson, Robertson-Malt & Rittenmeyer, 2011). Meta-aggregation takes an inclusive approach to searching and selecting studies and stresses the importance of methodological quality of studies to be included in a synthesis, from the point of view that methodological aws in a particular study could have a negative impact on the ndings of a synthesis and its trustworthiness. Meta-aggregation is aligned with the philosophy of pragmatism in that it is particularly sensitive to the practicality and usability of its ndings. It takes the complex picture of the phenomenon of interest derived from the original qualitative papers into account, and, also proposes particular lines of action (close to recommendations) on an individual and an organisational level. It distinguishes itself from other QES approaches developed within an interpretive research paradigm in its presentation of a declamatory form of synthesized statement or description that indicates direct action. It does not seek to re-interpret ndings from other studies. Rather, it is developed to emphasize the probability of a particular claim that may lead directly to an operational prediction (Hannes & Lockwood, 2011). 2.1. Search strategy for identication of studies We conducted a comprehensive search of the literature produced since 1990 until December 2011. Because the biggest amount of research on team learning started after the publication of The Fifth Discipline (Senge, 1990), we anticipated that the benet of including studies conducted before 1990 was small. An initial scoping of the literature resulted in the formulation of a list of key words to be used to search the major databases. The following subject terms were used: team learning, group learning, collective learning, and cooperative learning. These were combined with a set of context related terms including employee, vocation training, vocational training, vocation learning, vocational learning, vocation, organization, and organisation.

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In the rst stage of the search strategy these search terms were used within seven relevant, major databases: ERIC, PsycINFO, EconLit, POOLL, Web of Science, Francis, and the EBSCO database from Academic Search Premier. Second, thirteen topic specic journals were hand searched: Journal of Workplace Learning, Adult Education Quarterly, Vocations and Learning, Studies on Continuing Education, Human Resource Development Quarterly, Journal of European industrial Training, The Learning Organization, Innovation in Education and Training International, Education + Training, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Journal of Education, and Work and Small Group Research. Relevant studies were identied based on information provided in the abstract, or title when the abstract was not available. In case of doubt based on the title only, the full text was sought. Third, a screening instrument was developed based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria specied below, which guided the reviewers in assessing the relevance of retrieved studies based on abstract and titles (Box 1). Box 1 Screening instrument Title of the study: Inclusion criteria: Types of participants: Employees > adults > members of a team Topic studied: Experiences with team learning Vocational learning or work setting Types of studies: Qualitative studies with a clear method and result section > primary research (exclude secondary data) The ve characteristics of a team: 1. A collective of individuals who are interdependent in their tasks 2. Share responsibility for outcomes 3. See themselves and are seen by others as an intact social entity embedded in one or more larger social systems (two characteristics are combined) 4. Manage their relationships across social boundaries 0 Include 0 Exclude: Reason for rejection:

Studies were considered if they met at least two of the ve criteria of a team as dened by Cohen and Bailey (1997). From studies that passed this initial screening phase the full text was sought. A second reviewer duplicated the full text screening phase. An inter rater agreement score was calculated. Disagreements were discussed with a third reviewer. For pragmatic reasons only articles written in a language that could be read and understood by the members from the research team were included (i.e., English, Dutch, French, and German). 2.2. Criteria for considering studies in this review 2.2.1. Type of studies All types of qualitative research studies were considered. In line with the basic viewpoint of the developers of the metaaggregative approach that a critical appraisal of methodological quality should be considered an obligatory passing point for inclusion, we restricted included qualitative research reports to empirical studies with a clear description of the sampling strategy, the methodology chosen, data collection procedures used and the type of data-analysis considered. A transparent description of these issues facilitates the systematic use of critical appraisal as well as a more paradigmatic appraisal process. Editorials and opinion pieces were therefore excluded from the analysis. 2.2.2. Type of participants Since the context of this QES was restricted to work or vocational learning settings, only studies on adult workers were included. In addition, the participants had to be part of a team and had to engage in team learning. Studies on team leaders were included, since we considered them being part of a team. Studies targeting top managers were excluded from the study, because their main task consisted of supervising teams. 2.2.3. Type of outcome measures We only considered studies that explored the experiences with team learning for employees in the context of their work or vocational learning. All studies reporting on either the meaningfulness, appropriateness, feasibility, perceived effectiveness, barriers or facilitators of team learning or a combination of these were considered for inclusion.

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2.3. Critical appraisal The critical appraisal instrument developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) was used to appraise the methodological quality of all relevant studies. In a recent comparison of three critical appraisal instruments, the JBI tool appeared to be the most coherent, because of its focus on congruity (Hannes, Lockwood, & Pearson, 2010). The critical appraisal instrument consists of 10 quality criteria (Box 2). The minimum threshold for studies to be included was that they met criterion eight of the instrument evaluating whether or not a study has adequately represented the adult workers voices. One of the characteristics of qualitative research is that the investigator has a potential inuence in the interpretation of the data. Over- or under interpretation from a researcher may have an impact on the trustworthiness of the ndings of a study. A reference to the original quotes of the participants in an original research paper allows a reviewer to evaluate whether or not a particular claim from an author is credible. It assists in judging the trustworthiness of the claims made by an author, based on the raw data gathered within the research project. The importance of interpretative validity in qualitative research has been stressed in the paper from Hannes, Lockwood and Pearson (2010), which is why we gave it a prominent role in the quality appraisal. Each study had to comply with criterion eight evaluating the credibility of the studies. We decided on a cut-off score of 710 to consider studies for inclusion. Box 2 Quality criteria critical appraisal exercise There is congruity between the stated philosophical perspective and the research methodology. There is congruity between the research methodology and the research question or objectives. There is congruity between the research methodology and the methods used to collect data. There is congruity between the research methodology and the representation and analysis of data. There is congruity between the research methodology and the interpretation of results. There is a statement locating the researcher culturally or theoretically. The inuence of the researcher on the research, and vice versa, is addressed. Participants, and their voices, are adequately represented. The research is ethical according to current criteria or, for recent studies, there is evidence of ethical approval by an appropriate body. 10. Conclusions drawn in the research report do appear to ow from the analysis, or interpretation, of the data. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

2.4. Data extraction and synthesis We used a three step approach to extracting, analysing and synthesizing the ndings of original qualitative research reports. Conceptual and descriptive communality was sought in the themes and metaphors presented in each study. The analytic process consisted of the aggregation or synthesis of ndings to generate a set of overarching descriptions presented as declamatory statements that were grounded in the ndings. In a rst step we assembled the ndings from original research papers. A nding is dened as a theme, category or metaphor reported by authors of the original paper. We took the literal descriptions presented in the results sections of original articles into account. For each of the ndings a supporting citation was sought that demonstrated the origin of the ndings. We adopted the levels of evidence outlined by Pearson (2004) and assigned them to each of the original themes identied (Box 3). Only ndings that were considered unequivocal and credible were considered for further categorisation. The second step was to summarize these ndings on the basis of similarity in meaning across all papers. We searched for conceptual similarity to construct these categories; a particular theme, metaphor or part thereof that could be identied across multiple papers. In addition, we looked at potential descriptive similarity, whether the terminology associated with a theme or metaphor was consistent across papers. In a third step these categories were subject to a meta-aggregation in order to produce three comprehensive sets of aggregated ndings. In this process, we concentrated on the summary of common and competing ndings to produce cross generalisations that led to the recommendations for action. What adds to the robustness of the meta-aggregative approach is that the cues to action can be traced back to the original data. We have integrated the level of evidence and the identication number of the included studies (Box 4) that generated particular ndings in our conceptual models (Figs. 13).

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Box 3 Levels of evidence Unequivocal: relates to evidence beyond reasonable doubt which may include ndings that are matter of fact, directly reported/observed and not open to challenge. Credible: relates to those ndings that are, albeit interpretations, plausible in light of the data and theoretical framework. They can be logically inferred from the data. Because the ndings are interpretive they can be challenged. Unsupported: is when the ndings are not supported by the data.

3. Findings In this part we will present the ndings related to the search strategy and critical appraisal exercise, provide an overview of the main characteristics of the included studies and present the overarching descriptions based on the data-extraction of the ndings in the original research papers as lines of action for policy and practice. The comprehensive search strategy identied 3783 potentially relevant studies. Based on abstract and title 273 studies met the inclusion criteria. After ltering out the doubles, 218 studies were assessed, based on the full-text article. A total of 191 studies were excluded from the review because they did not meet all inclusion criteria. The inter rater agreement between reviewers for the screening phase was 92%. A complete list of the references of all 191 excluded studies can be obtained from the rst author. Most of the excluded studies (N = 90) did not primarily address team learning. Twenty-six studies reported on the experiences of students instead of employees. Eleven studies were excluded because the articles did not refer to a work or vocational learning setting and 37 texts did not meet the criteria for team work outlined by Cohen and Bailey (1997). Another 25 studies were mainly quantitative and two articles were excluded based on language. In the end, 27 studies met all inclusion criteria. All studies were appraised by one reviewer. A random sample of 7 out of 27 articles was independently appraised by a second reviewer to check on potential differences in interpretation of the appraisal instrument (Table 1). Inconsistencies between reviewers were solved through discussion and through involving a senior researcher. The rst reviewer double checked the remaining 20 studies, based on the line of argument from the discussion. Fourteen out of 27 studies nally passed the critical appraisal exercise and were used for further data extraction and synthesis. Table 2 outlines the main characteristics of the 14 included studies (listed in Box 4). Several papers reported ndings of studies that were conducted in the health and social care sector (N = 4) or in private production, and manufacturing companies (N = 7). Other authors reported on team learning in universities or educational alliances (N = 2) or a theatre company (N = 1). Some of the included papers did not mention the geographical region wherein the interventions were conducted, however most of the studies were conducted in western countries such as the UK, the USA or Scandinavia. From the 14 research papers 115 ndings were extracted. These were assigned to seven different thematic categories, based on similarity in meaning, and further synthesised into three overarching descriptions. Figs. 13 visually represent the key ndings and categories related to these statements.

Table 1 Outcome of the assessment of the quality of the relevant studies. Title of the study Criteria appraisal criteria* 1 1. Barak, J., Gidron, A., & Turniansky, B., (2010). Without stones there is no arch: A study of professional development of teacher educators as a team. Professional Development in Education, 36, 275287. 2. Becker, S.A. (1998). A proposed learning environment for goal specic improvements. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, The American University, Washington, DC. U U N 2 Y Y N 3 Y U N 4 Y U N 5 Y N N 6 Y Y N 7 N N N 8 U N N 9 N U N 10 N U N R1**excluded R1 excluded R2***excluded Decision: excluded R1 included R1 included R1 included R1 included R1 included R2 included Decision: included R1 excluded R1 included R1 included R1 included R1 included R2 excluded Decision: included R1 included R1 excluded R2 excluded Decision: excluded R1 excluded R2 excluded Decision: excluded R1 excluded R2 included Decision: excluded R1 excluded R1 excluded R2 excluded Decision: excluded Conclusion

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Y N

Y Y

17. Keegan, A., & Turner, J.R. (2001). Quantity versus Quality in project based learning practices. Management Learning 32(1), 7798. 18. Mittendorff, K., Geijsel, F., Hoeve, A., de Laat, M., & Nieuwenhuis, L. (2006). Communities of practice as stimulating forces for collective learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, 18(5), 298312.

Y N U

Y Y U

Y Y U

Y Y U

U Y U

Y N N

Y N N

N Y N

Y N N

U Y N

19. Olson, C.A., Tooman, T.R., & Alvarado, C.J. (2010). Knowledge systems, health care teams, and clinical practice: A study of successful change. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 15, 491516. 20. Peltonen, K. (2008). Can learning in teams help teachers to become more enterpreneurial? The interplay between efcacy perceptions and team support. LTA, 3, 297324. 21. Robey, D., Khoo, H.M., & Powers, C. (2000). Situated learning in cross-functional virtual teams. Manuscript submitted for publication. 22. Rutherford, J., & McArthur, M. (2004). A qualitative account of the factors affecting team learning in primary care. Education for Primary Care, 15, 352360. 23. Sense, J.A. (2004). An architecture for learning in projects. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16(3), 123145. 24. Sense, J.A. (2005). Facilitating conversational learning in a project team practice. Journal of Workplace learning, 17(3), 178193. 25. Soule, D.L., & Applegat, L.M. (2009, January). Virtual team learning: Reecting and acting, alone or with others. Manuscript submitted for publication. 26. Szejnwald Brown, H., & Vergagt, P.J. (2008). Bounded socio-technical experiments as agents of systematic change: The case of a zero-energy residential building. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 75, 107130. 27. Van Wijngaarden, J.D., de Bont, A.A., & Huijsman, R. (2006). Learning to cross boundaries: The integration of a health network to deliver seamless care. Health Policy, 79, 203213. Y = Yes; N = No; U = Unclear. The numbers refer to the criteria listed in Box 2. ** Reviewer 1. *** Reviewer 2.
*

U Y Y Y N N N U N

Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y

Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y

Y Y Y Y Y Y Y U U

Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N U

Y U U N U N N Y N

Y N Y Y Y Y Y N N

Y Y Y U U U Y N N

Y N N Y N N N U N

Y Y Y Y U Y Y N U

R1 included R1 included R1 included R1 excluded R1 excluded R1 excluded R1 included R1 excluded R1 excluded

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Table 2 Main characteristics of the 14 studies selected for data extraction and synthesis. Nr. 1* Methodology Socio-cultural perspective/ analysis Method Observations and interviews Phenomena of interest Procedures and competence development methodology Setting An oil renery and petrochemicals manufacturing complex Geographical UK Participants Process operators, maintenance technicians, ofce employees, training staff, renery analysts, renery technologists and various categories of manager Four teams whose task was to improve the production process. 10 to 15 people in a team (voluntarily). Selected to achieve a broad variation of hierarchical rank, gender, age, and ethnic and racial background Three teams, from three different disciplinary units, responsible for teaching activities and some research tasks. With a clear top management team leader (3), a team leader (3), and team members (6) 10 teams Data analysis Thematic analysis

Interpretive interactionist approach

Qualitative multiple case study

The link between the distribution of formal power to individual team members and the collective teamlearning outcome of producing useful new knowledge

The research and development unit of a large high-technology manufacturing company

Thematic analysis, negativecase analysis

Case study

Personal in depth and semi-structured interviews

The effect of leadership style of a team leader on team-member learning in organisations, ambidextrous leadership in a team context

Large and prominent university

Content analysis

Interpretive epistemology

Observations and interviews

To explore how collective learning and change happen

Primary care teams

UK

Ethnographical approach

Developing sequence of social interaction

The process of inter-professional work and learning

Surgical operating theatre = interprofessional groups

Finland

Doctors (surgeons and physicians) and nurses

Exploratory study

Observations and interviews

The role of team learning in organisational learning

Five types of teams: top management, middle management, product development, internal services, and production. In a medium-sized manufacturing company Hospitals

Qualitative eld study Multiple casestudy design

Interviews

Direct observations + semistructured interviews

The operatingroom-team work routine Conditions for informal learning in care work

USA

Home help service

Sweden

Senior executives, middle managers, engineers, production workers, and providers of various staff services Members of the OR teams using MICS Care workers, and the head and deputy of each unit

Thematic analysis, use of mindmap software leading to a metaframework of results Basic results compared with ideal vignettes An iterative approach

Cross-case analysis Cross-case analysis

K. Hannes et al. / Educational Research Review 10 (2013) 116132 Table 2 (continued) Nr. 9 Methodology Case-based approach Method Interviews Phenomena of interest Team-based knowledge work Setting A large insurance company and a small engineering company, a large consumer health product company A regional theatre company = Center Theatre Company Geographical Sweden, USA Participants Members of project teams Data analysis Thematic analysis

125

10

Clinical approach

11

Soft knowledge systems theory

Participant observation, structured and unstructured interviewing Qualitative crosscase study: interviews, archival document review, and direct observation

Learning in the workplace from a practice based perspective Knowledge production and successful change in teams. The existing knowledge networks

Mid-west of the USA

35 company members

Grounded theory

Part of the Antimicrobial Resistance Educational Alliance (AREA)

USA

Health care teams which matched the criteria

12

Grounded theory

Team members written reections

How to learn to become an entrepreneurial teacher?

An entrepreneurial teamteaching intervention

Finland

The author and two teacher colleagues

13

Interpretative

Interviews

Virtual teams and the learning of work practices Virtual team learning

A large company

USA

14

An exploratory study

Interviews, observations, access to electronic project records

New product development situations in a multinational company

Workers and managers of three cross-functional teams 7 new product development teams: team members and managers

NVivo software: primary level using a coding dictionary, secondary level using emergent themes Open coding, axial coding, and selective coding Categorical coding

Withinteam analysis and crossteam analysis

Number referring to studies included in the synthesis listed in Box 4.

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Category 2: Essential conditions of team learning Knowledge sharing Team members exchange what they know, think, hear from eachother (U: 1, 2, 9, 10) Boundary crossing Contacts occur within teams and outside teams (consumers and management) (U: 6, 14). These contacts are mainly used to exchange what happened, spread knowledge and information, facilitate learning and change (U: 2, 3, 5, 6, 11, 14). Employees use pre-existing and new linkages (U: 11, 14). Communication Communication can be task or socio-emotional related and occurs face-to-face (most appreciated form), via media or virtually. Respect for linguistic conventions and overcoming stereotypical expectations associated with cultural differences is considered important (U: 13).

Category 1: Different types of learning Active-reflective Both types of learning occur separately, simultanously or not at all (U: 6, 10, 14) Reflective learning may happen in a formal or an informal way (U: 10) Feed back-feed forward Feedback learning is described as the exploitation type of learning and feed forward learning as the exploration type (U: 3). Single-double loop Both types of learning are mentioned in the context of coping with mistakes (U: 4, 9) Knowledge creation For well structured problems limited knowledge sharing occurs. For ill-structured problems knowledge sharing occurs more frequently (U: 9).

Category 3: Enabling learning factors Team/social support Different types of support that enable learning are mentioned, including instrumental, informational, emotional, appraisal, collegial, intra/interprofessional support (U: 5, 12) . An inclusive atmosphere is appreciated (U: 5). Structural support An emphasis on the planning and organisation of work, multidisciplinary teams, formal as well as informal meetings, active engagement in learning activities, accessible managers, an optimal use of architecture and space seem to enable learning (U: 2, 8, 10, 11, 14 / O: 4)

Whatever type of team learning is occurring on the work floor, there are three conditional team learning processes that one should always take into account: communication, boundary crossing, and knowledge sharing. Besides these essential conditions an enabling learning environment may further stimulate the learning of a team.

Fig. 1. Findings contributing to synthesis 1 (numbers refer to studies from Table 2, U = unequivocal and O = unsupported evidence).

Box 4 Final set of included studies 1. Boreham, N., & Morgan, C. (2004). A sociocultural analysis of organizational learning. Oxford Review of Education, 30(3), 307325. 2. Brooks, A. K. (1994). Power and the production of knowledge: Collective team learning in work organizations. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 5(3), 213235. 3. Bucic, T., Robinson, L., & Ramburuth, P. (2010). Effects of leadership styles on team learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, 22(4), 228248. 4. Bunniss, S., & Kelly, D. R. (2008). The unknown becomes the known: Collective learning and change in primary care teams. Medical Education, 42(12), 11851194. 5. Collin, K., Paloniemi, S., & Mecklin, J. P. (2010). Promoting interprofessional teamwork and learning - The case of surgical operating theatre. Journal of Education and Work, 23(1), 4363. 6. Edmondson, A. C. (2002). The local an variegated nature of learning in organizations: A group-level perspective. Organization Science, 13(2), 128146. 7. Edmondson, A. C., Bohmer, R. M., & Pisano, G. P. (2001). Disrupted routines: Team learning and new technology implementation in hospitals. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46(4), 685716. 8. Ellstro m, E., Ekholm, B., & Ellstro m, P. E. (2008). Two types of learning environment: Enabling and constraining a study of care work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 20(2), 8497. 9. Erhardt, N. (2011). Is it all about teamwork? Understanding processes in team-based knowledge work. Management Learning, 42(1), 87112. 10. Ford, R. (2008). From situated practice to informed theory: Learning cycles and enabling structures. The Learning Organization, 15(2), 126148. 11. Olson, C. A., Tooman, T. R., & Alvarado, C. J. (2010). Knowledge systems, health care teams, and clinical practice: A study of successful change. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 15(4), 491516. 12. Peltonen, K. (2008). Can learning in teams help teachers to become more enterpreneurial? The interplay between efcacy perceptions and team support. LTA, 3, 297324. 13. Robey, D., Khoo, H. M., & Powers, C. (2000). Situated learning in cross-functional virtual teams. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 43(1), 51-66. 14. Soule, D. L., & Applegat, L. M. (2009). Virtual team learning: Reecting and acting, alone or with others. Cambridge, USA: Harvard business school. Retrieved from http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/09-084.pdf.

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Category 4: Organisational authority structure and distribution of formal power Negative consequences of lack of formal power No control over time movement and work, not invited for team meetings limiting the chance to integrate knowledge resulting in a perception of being less valuable (U: 2, 7). Disencouraging factors include meetings outside working hours, fear of 'identification' with a problem (U: 2, 6, 7), stifling and intimidating nature of meetings (C: 2). Sources of power differences Power differences are institutionalised by a hierarchical authority structure and supporting policies: communication patterns are steered by hierarchical positions, authority results from formal position rather than technical knowledge, top management keeps the differences in place (U: 2, 6, 7). Knowledge becomes a source of power in the context of persuading stakeholders and gaining respect and trust (U: 11, 14). Power differences and team learning Reflection and action mostly occurs in teams where leaders minimize power (U: 1, 2, 9, 11) and create a psychologically safe, collaborative and inclusive atmosphere (U: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7).

For team learning and conditional team learning processes to occur, power differences should be minimised or eliminated and authority structures that reproduce power differences should be analysed. The team leaders should take responsibility to influence the power relationships inside their teams and as a result influence the kind of learning that takes place.

Category 5: Leadership styles and their influence on team learning A leader's task Leaders engage in selecting and motivating staff, enrol staff intellectually and emotionally in a project, coaches and reflects on the team, with sensitivity to potential hierarchical structures in the organisation. The importance and fit for purpose of a person for a project should be communicated (U: 7). Leadership influences Leadership is guided by existing personality traits as well as external influences such as time pressure, hierarchical structure. Leaders may take over the leadership style of top management (U: 3). Leadership styles Different styles are identified including transactional, transformational, ambidextrous and multi champion or expert leadership, stimulating different types of learning (C: 3, . A focus on contact and relationship building and shared leadership is appreciated (U: 2, C: 7, 11).

Fig. 2. Findings contributing to synthesis 2 (numbers refer to studies from Table 2, U = unequivocal, C = credible evidence).

3.1. Synthesis 1 Whatever type of team learning is occurring on the work oor, there are three conditional team learning processes that one should always take into account: communication, boundary crossing, and knowledge sharing. Besides these essential conditions an enabling learning environment may further stimulate the learning of a team. This synthesis results from the combination of three categories (Fig. 1): different types of learning (Category 1), essential conditions for learning (Category 2), and enabling learning factors (Category 3). Category 1. This category shows that team members experience different kinds of learning and their stories demonstrate that these different learning types occur either simultaneously or iteratively. Types of learning that have often been mentioned are: reection and action, feedback/exploitative learning and feed-forward/exploration learning, single- and double loop learning, individual- and team learning, and knowledge creation (3, 6, 9, 10, 12, 141). The team members also describe conditions that are important for the teams to engage in a learning process.

Category 2. Communication, knowledge sharing and boundary crossing are all described as conditional team learning processes. Communication can help to improve team members understanding of each other and should be task-related as well as socio-emotional (13). Communication seems essential in different kinds of groups, but its importance is particularly stressed by virtual teams wherein different communication media are chosen based on urgency, individual preference, need for documentation and ease of use (13). Members of the virtual teams still perceive face-to-face communication as the most valuable option and appreciate this kind of interaction (13). Boundary crossing refers to team members communicating with colleagues outside their own team; experts or informants, consumers or managers (2, 3, 5, 6, 14). It is primarily done to spread or obtain knowledge and information and sometimes to seek feedback and direction (2, 11, 14). Knowledge sharing is mentioned in four different studies and seems to ow from communication and boundary crossing that are both featuring the issue of exchange (1, 2, 9, 10). These ndings seem to suggest that team learning can be stimulated by ensuring that these three components are at place. This would then facilitate the creation of an enabling learning environment. Category 3. The third category shows that both peer and structural support seem to be important facilitators for team learning. Study participants have mentioned factors such as collegial support, inter- and intra-professional interaction and guidance, inclusive atmosphere, architecture/lay out of the work space, instrumental-, informational-, emotional- and appraisal support of team members. On a structural level multidisciplinary teams, accessibility of the leader, and individual and organisational learning readiness are all mentioned as important facilitators for team learning to occur (4, 5, 8, 10).
1

The numbers refer to the numbers assigned to the studies included in this review listed in (Box 4).

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Category 6: Descriptions of team learning Associations Unpredictable (C: 4, 13), helpful in coping with demands (U: 4), stimulates reflection on the self and others, happens unconsciously and experiental (U: 4), is dynamic and implicit and induces knowledge about people and their roles (U: 4, 5, 13, 14) Positive and negative feelings There is a shared responsability for failure or succes in working interdependent, which reduces anxiety (U: 4, 7/C: 9). Seeing the benefits for clients and the broader picture is motivating (U: 2, 7, 8, 14). Negative feeling associated with team learning are uncertainty, fear and stress (U: 4, 7).

Team learning is clearly expressed to be an experiential, evolutionary and implicit process. During this process positive as well as negative feelings occur. Different patterns of team learning are described but no matter which pattern of team learning is followed, reflective learning and active learning (in a variety of different forms) should always be part of the process.

Category 7: Patterns of team learning Action and reflection Learning occurs from the iteration between reflection and action (U: 6) Four step pattern Putting learning in practice implies enrolment, preparation, trials and reflection (U: 7, 14) Four interconnected learning cycles Components of learning cycles include action learning, direct structured learning, extended participatory reflection, synthesis across disciplines and dissemination of knowledge (U/C: 10). Efficiency perception pattern Learning occurs in a pattern of three phases: a planning, action and evaluation phase, with a growing amount of self-efficacy belief resulting in a decreasing need for instrumental support in favour of emotional and appraisal support (U: 12). Experiental learning pattern This pattern consist of two main actions being thinking and doing, either alone or with others.

Fig. 3. Findings contributing to synthesis 3 (numbers refer to studies from Table 2, U = unequivocal, C = credible evidence).

3.2. Synthesis 2 For team learning and conditional team learning processes to occur, power differences should be minimised or eliminated and authority structures that reproduce power differences should be analysed. The team leaders should take responsibility to inuence the power relationships inside their teams and as a result inuence the kind of learning that takes place. The synthesis pulls together the ndings from two categories (Fig 2): organisational authority structures and distribution of formal power (Category 4) and leadership styles and their inuence on team learning (Category 5). Category 4. The statements in Category 4 represent the negative consequences of the lack of formal power for particular groups of employees. Ones function or place in an organisation and in addition his/her specic knowledge base determines ones power and therefore ones interaction with others. A position of power generally results from experience and longstanding relations that leads to trust and respect (2, 7, 11, 14). Several ndings indicate that the particular authority structure within an organisation produces an unequal distribution of formal power that is kept in place by top management and inuences the learning of individual team members (2, 6, 7). Lower-power team members (LPTM) describe their inability to inuence important decision making processes, because they are not invited to participate in important meetings (2). They also state that they would feel uncomfortable about raising their voices in a meeting, because of a concern to lose credit with their employer (2, 6, 7). This implies that LPTM are less likely to share and integrate their knowledge (2). Some studies highlight the importance of psychological safety that, according to the adult workers, implies the condence of each member to speak up (5, 6, 7). Many LPTM state that their opinions are perceived to be less valuable (2, 7). The qualitative evidence further indicates that in order for team learning to occur power differences can and should be reconstituted (1, 2, 11). An atmosphere of collaboration and inclusion is perceived as stimulating for personal development (2, 3). Studies targeting adult workers from teams that had succeeded in reducing the hierarchy between their members, report better overall results and learning opportunities (7, 11). Category 5. Category 5 provides a summary of the stories of team members on their team leaders. On the task level they stress the importance of a team leaders capability to motivate adult workers by engaging them on an intellectual and an emotional level and by clarifying their particular role and why they have been selected for the job (7). Many team leaders tend to take over the top management leadership style, however the ndings suggest that a shared leadership has a positive impact on both the team leaders and LPTM (2, 11). In one study team members of successful teams describe and appreciate certain leadership tasks which help minimising power differences (7). Leaders themselves describe leadership as being all about contact and relationships (2, 7). Different kinds of leadership stimulate different kinds of team learning: transactional leadership stimulates feedback learning, transformational leadership stimulates feed-forward learning and ambidextrous leadership implies exploration and exploitation, incremental and radical learning, exibility and control, and feed-forward and feedback learning (3).

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3.3. Synthesis 3 Team learning is clearly expressed to be an experiential, evolutionary and implicit process. During this process positive as well as negative feelings occur. Different patterns of team learning are described but no matter which pattern of team learning is followed, reective learning and active learning (in a variety of different forms) are always part of the process. Fig. 3 outlines the process of team learning, building on two major categories of ndings: descriptions of team learning (Category 6) and patterns of team learning (Category 7). Category 6. When analysing descriptions of team learning given by the participants and summarizing words as unpredictable and unconsciously, mistakes and shared responsibly frequently occur (4, 9, 13). Team learning then seems to be an experiential process that includes actions such as watching, listening, trying etc. (4, 14). Team learning is also perceived as evolutionary or non-static (4, 5). Some studies describe it as an implicit process; the learning has a non-formal nature and occurs during daily work (4, 13). Knowing the other team members, who they are, what they think, what they will do next, and how to anticipate on this is considered very important, particularly in the context of individual members specic roles and tasks (4, 5). Team learning helps the members to understand what happens in the company and how their work is related to the overall goal of their employer (2, 14). The studies further suggest that employees experienced negative emotions such as uncertainty, fear and stress. These were perceived as logic reactions to the demands placed upon the teams (4, 7). Overall, the positive feelings concur the negatives ones and team learning is experienced as a valuable process (2, 4). Category 7. A seventh and last category shows ve different team learning patterns or pathways to implement team learning that have been identied in the original studies: action and reection, the four step pattern, the four interconnected learning cycles, the efciency perception pattern and the experiential learning pattern. The patterns starts from a different point of view, however it was noticed that reection learning and action learning occur in every pattern and can be considered the core characteristics of the learning processes within teams (6, 10, 12, 14).

4. Discussion 4.1. Implications for practice This QES aimed to investigate how team learning is experienced by employees and subsequently extracted implications for the team learning practice. The benet of having used the meta-aggregative approach was that it permitted the reviewers to formulate comprehensive descriptions implying several lines of actions, based on credible, high quality, qualitative research evidence. The rich information resulting from the primary research papers enabled the reviewers to better understand the meaning of team learning for employees. Our review united the ndings of various studies through assimilating the amount of information from studies that we considered of high methodological quality. The method we opted for has played an important role in producing accurate conclusions. It allowed us to conduct a proper and formal comparison of ndings from different studies involved and provides a qualitative knowledge base for researchers who will study team learning processes in organisations. In what follows we will discuss the three synthesized lines of argument derived from our review and their implications for practice. The rst synthesis addresses the importance of conditional aspects for team learning to occur. The nding that communication, boundary crossing and knowledge sharing are important conditions for team learning is adding to the current ndings in the eld that were up till now mostly grounded in quantitative studies. The latter studies do stress more the importance of psychological safety (Edmondson, 1999), interdependence and task cohesion, group potency (e.g., Boon et al., 2013; Van den Bossche et al., 2006) and the presence of a transactive memory system the mechanism through which groups collectively encode, store, and retrieve knowledge (Wegner, 1986) as basic conditions for team learning. Moreover, Decuyper et al. (2010) identied sharing, boundary crossing and team reection as important aspects of team learning processes. This model of team learning now receives additional support from the current study. Our ndings do not particularly suggest that there is one right way for teams to learn. Employers would do well to vary in the strategies they use to facilitate communication, for example establishing meeting environments based on respect and open communication that allow all employees to discuss important topics and issues within the workplace that may lead to certain activities, or disseminating staff bulletins or email messages to communicate changes, expectations and relevant announcements to keep everyone in the loop of what is going on in the organisation, which may induce reection. This is expected to increase the chance that team members engage in creative and innovative activities (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011; Cabrera & Cabrera, 2005; Kratzer, Leenders & van Engelen, 2004; Tsui & Law, 2007; Walker & Nocon, 2007). We further recommend to create an enabling learning environment (Clarke, 2005; Govaerts & Baert, 2011; Sveinung, 2004). Based on the original articles studied, we advise that such an environment should be sensitive to the conditions that are essential for team learning, such as communication and engaging in a dialogue. Another example of an enabling environment is the promotion of an atmosphere in which errors are recognised and acknowledged, analysed and reected upon in order to promote creativity.

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The second synthesis addresses the aspect of potential inequity. Also the ndings of this second synthesis are adding to the eld of research on team learning. Up till now power issues did not arise in discussions related to team learning (Van den Bossche et al., 2006), rather it did attract attention in research on working in teams such as nursing teams, operation teams and cockpit crews (Coleman & Voronov, 2003). Certainly, also in learning and development issues power relationship and awareness of these can play a role. It is well known for example that supervisor support is an important determinant of transfer of learning to the workplace (Blume, Ford, Baldwin, & Huang, 2010). The main line of argument that ows from this synthesis is that power differences should be minimised or eliminated to enable all team members to attend and inuence important team meetings, to speak up and to share their knowledge and information. Our data suggest that psychological safety is an important factor to account for in order to permit team members to communicate information. The existing relationship between psychological safety, hierarchical differences and rm performance has been conrmed by previous research (Baer & Frese, 2003; Nembhard & Edmonson, 2006). Also, the status of a profession seems to positively relate to psychological safety, however this effect appears to be variable across teams. The synthesis further suggests that it is important to enable the team leaders to understand and inuence the power inequalities in their team. The experiences of team members included in this QES clearly support this advice. In the literature, leadership is often described as being a quality of one particular person who is often formally appointed (Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1999; Tichy &Ulrich, 2008). Team leaders are then assigned tasks that promote inclusion of team members and an inclusive atmosphere. Many employees seem to suggest that their ability to learn is inuenced by the kind of leadership displaced by their team leaders, a nding that is conrmed by Vera and Crossan (2004) and Bass (2000). Based on the summary of ndings in this QES we tend to plead for a attened hierarchical structure. However, some studies would oppose such a structure, suggesting that some teams generate better results from working in an informal, hierarchical structure (Hinds & McGrath, 2006). Informal leaders are often characterised as charismatic leaders in contrast to the more formal statutory or traditional leaders (Buelens & De Stobbeleir, 2009). Other theories do not emphasise the individual characteristics of the leader and pay attention to the networking function, or the community perspective of leadership instead (Block, 2008; Hall & Janman, 2009; Scharmer, 2010). The authors of these theories interpret leadership as learning from the future as it emerges (Scharmer, 2010). Leadership in this particular context is more about meaning and sense making then about economics and problem-solving. The stories of the employees in the original research papers seem to indicate that successful teams have a leader who is accessible, who is rather a partner than an authority gure and who recognises the contributions of each member of the group. In addition, situations in which the leadership is shared seem to be appreciated (Pearce & Conger, 2003). The third synthesis wherein team members give a description of team learning indicates that team learning is described as a process that is perceived to be a naturally occurring phenomenon and therefore experiential, evolutionary and implicit. This nding is consistent in several research projects (Bunniss & Kelly, 2008; Robey, Khoo & Powers, 2000; Soule & Applegat, 2009). Many authors stressed the evolutionary aspects of learning in teams by creating developmental models that were investigated (Dechant, Marsick, & Kasl, 1993), while others did write about the implicit process of team learning that is mostly reective in nature (Decuyper et al., 2010). This leads to the advice of recognising and protecting the authenticity of the team learning processes, with a focus and recognition of employees commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions toward their learning processes. Nordhaug (1994) indicates that it might be a good option to stimulate the process of team learning, without intervening in or trying to formalise the teams learning (Nordhaug, 1994). Yet, at the same time other researchers claim that formalisation is an important condition for organisational learning, of which team learning is a particular component (Adler & Borys, 1996; Kondo, 1995; Senge, 1990). The ndings of this QES tend to support the view that learning should not be formalised. However, the teams that expressed an opinion in this QES were located at different positions on the formalisation continuum (Malcolm, Hodkinson, & Colley, 2003; Mocker & Spear, 1982). Hence, this issue of formalisation remains undecided and open for discussion (Ellstrm, 2001). The systematic inventory of experiences from employees has led to many insights, not in the least the fact that the aspect of team learning has not been put together in a way as to make it easily understandable. What we do know is that many of the issues that have been mentioned by employees in the qualitative studies cannot be called factual, or easy to measure in terms of performance output. Any attempt to use team learning as a mean toward an effectiveness end would benet from tying it to the experiential level of employees, their personal situation or characteristics and the organisational context, rather than separating it from it. This conrms Senges (1990) viewpoint that the context in which team learning occurs has a signicant role to play in how team learning is perceived by employees. 4.2. Research limitations This QES explicitly followed the meta-aggregative approach of JBI. Although this method is well described, methodological choices were inevitable in the process of this research. In developing the search strategy, the selection of adequate search terms and the creation of a list of inclusion criteria was hindered by the theoretical and conceptual confusion concerning the subject of team learning. Several different concepts, denitions and theoretical models were compared to better understand the insights about team learning generated in previous research, to inform our research strategy and to assist the reviewers in categorising the ndings and aggregating the syntheses. The nal set of working denitions opted for provides the coloured glasses through which we have interpreted the ndings (Kuhn, 1962).

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We also opted for the JBI critical appraisal tool to assess the quality of the studies eligible for inclusion. One of the strengths of this instrument is that it takes into account the theoretical, the descriptive and the interpretative validity of original qualitative research papers (Hannes et al., 2010). We emphasized the importance of interpretive validity by excluding papers that did not meet the credibility of the study ndings, criterion eight. In addition, we excluded ndings that were labelled as unsupported, meaning that the authors statements were not fully grounded in the data. These choices may have resulted in some potentially illuminating ndings not being included in the synthesis. Almost half of the articles which were previously identied as relevant to the subject were excluded based on the quality appraisal. However, studies conducting sensitivity analyses to evaluate whether low quality ndings added substantial new information to a synthesis have found that the effect of low quality evidence was modest. Hence, the choice to only include high quality papers is supported by others (Carroll, Booth & Lloyd-Jones, 2012; Noyes & Popay, 2007; Thomas et al., 2004). During the extraction phase it was noticed that all studies were conducted in western contexts and societies, which may be due to the choice of databases and search terms. The limitation to four languages understood by the researchers may also effect these mono-cultural results because articles in other languages, representing other cultures could simply not be included. This may limit the transferability of the ndings. It should be mentioned though that the ndings from the western papers were very coherent.

4.3. Implications for future research There is still a lot of theoretical and conceptual confusion about team learning, which links into the different labels that are used in different countries, learning contexts and situations. A systematic, transparent conceptual review may contribute to the theoretical clarity in the eld and can facilitate future research. The synthesis further highlights the conicting positions around aspects such as the hierarchical inequality on team learning. Not being invited to or being able to participate in important meetings have been a major concern for many employees. On the other hand, employees seem to dislike the stiing and intimidating nature of these meetings and do not want to be identied with particular problems. Another factor that negatively impacts on team learning processes is inappropriate leadership styles. It would be interesting to think about how the impact of the discouraging factors on employees could be reduced in order to create a safer environment. The eld of QES might also benet from methodological research focusing on how to appraise the types of qualitative research that have not been included. For example, we only included empirical studies with a clear methods and results section. Opinion, descriptive papers and editorials were excluded. This exclusion criterion has been used in previous research, indicating the importance of study quality and credibility in the selection of qualitative research evidence. Hannes, Goedhuys, and Aertgeerts (2012) state that editorials and opinion pieces are often political rather than empirical and therefore lend themselves more for a discourse type of analysis than a meta-aggregation. Little guidance exists on how these reports should be critically appraised and how data should be extracted. This is an area for future methodological research. Alternatively, authors of original research could be stimulated to back up their statements with evidence from transcripts of interviews, focus groups or observational descriptions in order to be considered for future evidence syntheses. This will prevent the exclusion of potentially interesting, unsupported ndings.

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