To reflect or not to reflect: Prior team performance as a boundary condition of the effects of reflexivity on learning and final team performance


  • An earlier version of this study was presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Chicago, in August, and included in the 2009 Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management.

Michaéla C. Schippers, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:


A small but growing body of literature adds to our understanding of the role of team reflexivity (i.e., reflecting upon team functioning) in predicting team performance. Although many studies conclude that reflexivity is an asset for teams, the contingencies of team reflexivity have received far less research attention. In this respect, we argue that team reflexivity may be especially helpful for teams with relatively low performance. Teams that are reflexive tend to learn from previous mistakes, errors, and group processes, which in turn will improve the performance of the team. We propose that this relationship will most likely positively affect learning and final team performance under conditions of relatively poor prior performance. When a team is doing relatively well, the relationship between reflexivity and final team performance will be less clear, as reflexivity and learning is less needed. In a longitudinal study (N = 73 teams), we found support for this idea. As predicted, results indicated that this interaction between team reflexivity and initial team performance on future performance was mediated by team learning. We outline how these findings are important for our understanding of the contingencies of team reflexivity and team performance dynamics. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.