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Graphical profiling of team working through participatory research


Purpose – Companies desire to improve their team organization by learning from other companies in their sector and adopting “best practice”. Researchers and consultants, who are called on to facilitate these learning processes, are confronted with the real world ambiguity and multiple meanings of “team” and “team organization”. A shared understanding of team organization is a precondition for learning and knowledge transfer between companies. This paper seeks to ask how this common understanding can be constructed.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses participatory research and a literature review. Based on a research project involving Norwegian manufacturing companies, the paper presents and discusses a participatory process, in which a graphical profiling tool was developed and applied in order to make sense of different forms of team organization.

Findings – The paper finds that companies were actively involved in deciding what the relevant dimensions of team working were. In reflection seminars, systematical comparison between companies dissolved conceptual ambiguity and supported reflection.

Research limitations/implications – The paper reports experiences with the mapping tool from two companies. Both are characterized by cooperative industrial relations, and openness to researchers. More research should be done in order to investigate the general workability of the process proposed here.

Practical implications – The proposed process for constructing and using a mapping tool are relevant for consultants and researchers, who aim to facilitate learning in a multiple company context. In particular, it is relevant for dealing with popular, but unclear concepts such as “team” and “team working”. To be workable, the process should take care to involve relevant stakeholders and the profiling should avoid technical language.

Social implications – Through a participatory approach, all participants in an organization can take part in a dialogue on team working. By introducing a common language, power distances may be reduced.

Originality/value – The general idea of using graphical profiling to support reflection is not original. The contribution is presenting and discussing a concrete participatory process for how graphical profiling can be made relevant and useful.


Academic article





  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • SINTEF Digital / Technology Management



Published in

Team Performance Management




Emerald Group Publishing Limited






27 - 40

View this publication at Cristin