Article Critique - Part 2

Article Critique


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            This study analyzed the effect of the macro-environment in multinationals on team work learning.  According to Bruhn and Gibson (2006), it also explored the effect of team learning on impersonal relations and task performance.  The authors assessed twenty subsidiaries which belonged to five multinationals.  A hundred and fifteen teams which had been picked from the twenty subsidiaries were analyzed for the desired characteristics.  The micro environment features were controlled, and these include team type, feedback, training and autonomy.  The authors also used secondary sources of information such as books and journals, in order to come up with a comprehensive research.  The findings revealed that the multinationals which emphasized global integration led to reduction in team learning.  On the other hand, organizations which emphasized knowledge management and responsiveness led to an increase in team learning. This is consistent with Zahavy and Somech (2001), who found out that heterogeneous teams are more effective and supportive than low heterogeneous teams.

            According to Bruhn and Gibson (2006), the authors began the research paper by explaining the aim of the research, thereafter followed by an introduction of the variables involved.  The next step involved the statement of hypotheses, in relation to the variables which were introduced.  The following step involved explaining the variables in more detail, through support by secondary sources of information.  The second part of the research, methodology, involved explaining how the author carried out the research, including the means of data collection.  This included observation during site visits and interviews.  In measuring the independent and dependent variables, a seven point scale which had measures, between ‘very accurate’ and ‘very inaccurate’, was used.  Data analysis was performed through the use of the general linear model analysis, in which ANOVA and regression analysis are derived from.

            In the conclusion, the authors acknowledge the limitations of the research, and some of them include the lack of intervening processes between micro context features and macro organization factors.  They propose that future research be done to explain some of the issues which this research did not cover.  However, in general, the research paper conforms to the internationally accepted standards of undertaking and presenting research work.  The uses of a wide range of references, all of which are academic journals make the research paper more comprehensive and have high levels of integrity.


            The authors begin by defining team learning as the collective combination, acquisition, creation and sharing knowledge by teams.  They further explain that team learning is affected by both external and internal factors.  The internal factors, which are otherwise known as the micro organization aspects have been adequately researched, but there has been very little research done on macro organization factors.  According to Bruhn and Gibson (2006), this is the reason that the authors focus on the study of the macro organizational impact on team learning in multinationals.  The reason that the authors focused on multinationals is that they possess complexity and variety which is absent in domestic firms.

            In line with this objective, the authors developed five hypotheses which were used to test a specific aspect of team learning; creation of collective and new work processes.  These were as follows;

            H1: Emphasizing global integration leads to a decrease in team learning.

            H2: Emphasizing local responsiveness leads to an increase in team learning.

            H3: Knowledge management procedures and norms lead to increase in team learning.

            H4: Team learning leads to an increase in task performance.

            H5: Team learning leads to an increase in interpersonal relations qualities.

            The findings revealed that all hypotheses held.  The emphasis on local responsiveness increased team learning unlike emphasizing on global integration.  Knowledge management procedures increased team learning, which also led to an increase in task performance.  Finally, team learning was found to have a positive relationship with interpersonal relations qualities.  The findings are supported by secondary sources of information, which are very credible, since they are academic journals written by scholars.  However, the authors also reveal that the research is not comprehensive, and further research should be done on the issues discussed.



            Five multinational medical products and pharmaceutical companies were selected, and they shared the following attributes.  The first was that they were in a similar industry, and this ensured that industry related effects were controlled.  The second was that they operated in different countries, and this ensured that the complexity desired from multinationals was achieved.  The third was that the firms used teams worldwide very extensively.  The major reason for choosing the pharmaceutical industry was that in addition to it being global, it also faced strong demands for local responsiveness and global integration.  The samples were chosen from four different geographical locations of each of the five firms, which made it a total sample of twenty sites.  Fifty two teams and a hundred and seven individuals were selected from these sites.

            The authors should have presented some of the weaknesses of using questionnaires to readers or other people who will depend on the research for decision making.  For instance, they should have explained that these include the fact that there is limitation on information which can be collected using this method (Kothari, 2005).  Even when using open ended questions, it is difficult to gain deeper insights from respondents as they are not physically present.  Open ended questions may lead to ambiguous or unclear answers due to differences in verbal ability.  The response rate may also be low, since many people are suspicious of questionnaires.  Finally, respondents may only reveal socially acceptable behavior, which may present inaccurate findings.  These weaknesses should have been presented to readers so that they know the limitations of the research.


            As previously stated, survey questionnaires were used to gather information.  Each individual was interviewed using their native languages through support from translators.  The questions which were asked revolved around team effectiveness, knowledge management and learning processes.  The translators engaged in translation-back-translation in order to ensure the French, Spanish and English responses were accurately captured.

            According to Bruhn and Gibson (2006), a further study was performed in eleven teams in order to check whether the translated versions were valid.  Finally, a multiple constituency test was carried out in order to measure the validity of the scales at team-level.  At the site level, the final survey involved new teams which had been selected by human resource professionals.   These included single function teams and cross-functional teams, which were 26% and 76% respectively.

            In measuring the independent and dependent variables, a seven point scale which had measures between ‘very accurate’ and ‘very inaccurate’ was used.   Variables measured using this scale included task performance and impersonal relation qualities.  In analyzing learning, the extent to which teams created new practice and processes was used.  The coefficient alpha and principal component analysis was also used to measure the variables.  Global integration was measured through annual report data content analysis.  In-context verification was also used to ensure that any term used adhered to the international management definitions and literature.  Instruments which were used in the study adhered to the internationally accepted standards, which increased the validity and reliability of the study.


            The first hypothesis which states that emphasizing global integration leads to a decrease in team learning, had a negative coefficient and was statistically significant, which shows that it holds.  The second hypothesis which states that emphasizing local responsiveness leads to an increase in team learning, had a positive coefficient and was statistically significant, which shows that it also holds.  The third hypothesis which states that knowledge management procedures and norms leads to increase in team learning, had a positive coefficient and was statistically significant, which supports the hypothesis.

            Before discussing the findings of variable four and five, it is important to note that there may be bias due to the reason that they both address performance implication of team learning.  Introducing team learning exposes the study to bias, since there other independent factors which affect team learning.  This means that it is possible that a violation of the assumption that explanatory variables are uncorrelated with error terms.

            The fourth hypothesis which states that team learning leads to an increase in task performance, had a positive coefficient and was statistically significant, which shows that it holds. Finally, the fifth hypothesis which states that team learning leads to an increase in interpersonal relations qualities, had a positive coefficient and was statistically significant, which shows that it also holds.

            The findings reveal that the original assumption that the organization context affects team learning holds.  This is consistent with Ngunyen et. al. (2008), whose findings which reveal that motivation in the organization has a positive influence with individual satisfaction in teams.  It also reveals that in addition to the micro context, the macro context also affects team learning.  Global integration has been seen to reduce team learning, though emphasizing knowledge management and local responsiveness, has been seen to increase team learning.  Finally, firm performance influences team learning, which means that firms which use their resources more efficiently support learning.

Conclusion and recommendation.

            The authors have proved that there is indeed a connection between the macro economic aspects of an organization and team performance.  Emphasizing global integration leads to a decrease in team learning.  Local responsiveness, knowledge management, procedures and norms have been seen to lead to an increase in team learning.  Team learning on the other hand has been seen to lead to an increase in task performance and an increase in interpersonal relations qualities.  The authors have stated the weaknesses of the study and recommended that further research be done on the topic.  They should however have presented the weaknesses in the use of questionnaires and secondary sources of information.  For instance, the use of journals presents the danger of developing a biased paper if the original author was biased when writing the research materials.  It is also difficult to seek explanations or corroboration since it is difficult to trace the authors of the work.  These weaknesses would enable readers to make informed decisions, after reading the paper.  However, in general, the paper is structured in the internationally acceptable standards.  The use of journals has made the information gathered to be comprehensive and valid, and can be used in doing further research on the topic.


Bruhn, M. Z., Gibson, C. (2006). Multinational organization context: Implications for team        learning and performance. Academy of Management Journal.  Academy of       Management.

Kothari, C. R. (2005). Research Methodology: Techniques & Methods. New York: New Age     Publishers.

Ngunyen, N. T., Seers, A., Hartman, N. S. (2008).  Putting a good face on impression    management: Team citizenship and team satisfaction. Institute of Behavioral and          Applied Management.  Available at <>.

Zahavy, A. D., Somech, A. (2001). Team heterogeneity and its relationship with team support   and team effectiveness. Journal of Educational Administration. Available at             <>.

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