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What is a Team?

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Teams differ from other type of groups in that members are focused on a joint goal or product, such as a presentation, completing in-class exercises, taking notes, discussing a topic, writing a report, or creating a new design or prototype.

Here is one of the most commonly cited definitions:

"A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable." (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993)

Similar definitions of a team include:

"People working together in a committed way to achieve a common goal or mission. The work is interdependent and team members share responsibility and hold themselves accountable for attaining the results." (MIT Information Services and Technology)

"A team is a group of people working together towards a common goal." (Team Technology, 1995-2006)

"A group in which members work together intensively to achieve a common group goal." (Lewis-McClear & Taylor 1998)


Katzenbach, J.R. & Smith, D.K. (1993). The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance Organization. Boston: Harvard Business School.

Lewis-McClear, Kyle and Taylor, M.S. (1998) "Psychological contract breach and the employment exchange: perceptions from employees and employers" Paper Presented to the Academy of Management, San Diego, August 1998.

MIT Information Services and Technology (no date) "Guide for Creating Teams: Definition of Teams"
Accessed May 1, 2007

Team Technology (1995-2006) "The Basics of Team Building"
Accessed May 1, 2007

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