abstract This paper brings together research into and using the team role model developed by Belbin (1981, 1993a) in an attempt to provide an exhaustive assessment of construct validity in light of the conflicting evidence so far produced. Role theory is used to contextualize the origins of the model. The psychometric properties of the Team Role Self-Perception Inventory used to assess a person's likely behaviour in a team are examined along with 43 empirical studies that have tested theoretical associations between team roles and other cognitive or behavioural traits. While the evidence is mixed, we conclude that, on balance, the model and its accompanying Inventory have adequate convergent validity. However, strong associations between some team roles are observed, indicating weak discriminant validity among some scales in the Inventory. Through its coverage of important areas of teamworking, the paper contributes to the practitioner and research communities by providing fresh insights into aspects of teamworking and by suggesting new research agendas.