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Teamwork has been defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole."[1] However, there is no universally-accepted definition of "teamwork" in the academic literature. In a business setting accounting techniques may be used to provide financial measures of the benefits of teamwork which are useful for justifying the concept.[2] Teamwork is increasingly advocated by health care policy makers as a means of assuring quality and safety in the delivery of services; a committee of the Institute of Medicine recommended in 2000 that patient safety programs "establish interdisciplinary team training programs for providers that incorporate proven methods of team training, such as simulation."

Definitions in academic literature

In health care, one definition of teamwork is "those behaviours that facilitate effective team member interaction," with "team" defined as "a group of two or more individuals who perform some work related task, interact with one another dynamically, have a shared past, have a foreseeable shared future, and share a common fate."[4] One definition for teamwork proposed in 2008 is "the interdependent components of performance required to effectively coordinate the performance of multiple individuals"; as such, teamwork is "nested within" the broader concept of team performance which also includes individual-level taskwork.[5] Another definition proposed in 2008 is "a dynamic process involving two or more healthcare professionals with complementary backgrounds and skills, sharing common health goals and exercising concerted physical and mental effort in assessing, planning, or evaluating patient care."[6] On the other hand, a 2012 review of the academic literature found that "there is no one unifying theory of exact dimensions of teamwork" and that the word "teamwork" has been used "as a catchall to refer to a number of behavioral processes and emergent states."

Teamwork processes

Researchers have identified 10 teamwork processes that fall into three categories:

. Transition processes (between periods of action)
. Mission analysis
. Goal specification
. Strategy formulation

Action processes (when the team attempts to accomplish its goals and objectives)

. Monitoring progress toward goals
. Systems monitoring
. Team monitoring and backup behavior
. Coordination

Interpersonal processes (present in both action periods and transition periods)

. Conflict management
. Motivation and confidence building
. Affect management

Training to improve teamwork

As summarized in a 2008 review, "team training promotes teamwork and enhances team performance."[5] In specific, a 2008 meta-analysis of 45 published and unpublished studies concluded that team training is "useful for improving cognitive outcomes, affective outcomes, teamwork processes, and performance outcomes."

Advantages and disadvantages of teamwork


Teamwork can lead to better decisions, products, or services. The quality of teamwork may be measured by analyzing the following six components of collaboration among team members: communication, coordination, balance of member contributions, mutual support, effort, and cohesion.[11] In one study, teamwork quality as measured in this manner correlated with team performance in the areas of effectiveness (i.e., producing high quality work) and efficiency (i.e., meeting schedules and budgets).[11] A 2008 meta-analysis also found a relationship between teamwork and team effectiveness.


Teamwork may have an "unintended effect of fermenting hostility toward the managerial goal of making the teams fully self-managing."[2] In one case study of a clothing manufacturer, a switch from production line work (with bonuses given for individual performance) to teamwork (in which an individual's earnings depended on team performance) caused workers to resent having to monitor each other.


1. "Teamwork" . Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 2. a b c Ezzamel, Mahmoud, and Hugh Willmott (1998). "Accounting for Teamwork: a Critical Study of Group-Based Systems of Organizational Control". Administrative Science Quarterly 43 (2): 358–396. DOI:10.2307/2393856 .
3. Kohn, Linda T., Janet M. Corrigan, and Molla S. Donaldson, ed. (2000). To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System . Washington, DC: National Academy Press. ISBN 0309068371.
4. Beaubien, J. M., and D. P. Baker (2004). "The Use of Simulation for Training Teamwork Skills in Health Care: How Low Can You Go?". Quality & Safety in Health Care 13 (Supplement 1): i51–i56. DOI:10.1136/qshc.2004.009845 . PMC 1765794. PMID 15465956.
5. a b Salas, Eduardo, Nancy J. Cooke, and Michael A. Rosen (2008). "On Teams, Teamwork, and Team Performance: Discoveries and Developments". Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 50 (3): 540–547. DOI:10.1518/001872008X288457 .
6. Xyrichis, Andreas, and Emma Ream (2008). "Teamwork: a Concept Analysis". Journal of Advanced Nursing 61 (2): 232–241. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04496.x .

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Teamwork", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.