Vertical or shared?

Authors Mieke Koeslag-Kreunen, Piet van den Bossche, Marcel van der Klink, Wim Gijselaers
Published in Higher Education
Publication date 1 July 2021
Type Article


University teacher teams can work toward educational change through the process of team learning behavior, which involves sharing and discussing practices to create new knowledge. However, teachers do not routinely engage in learning behavior when working in such teams and it is unclear how leadership support can overcome this problem. Therefore, this study examines when team leadership behavior supports teacher teams in engaging in learning behavior. We studied 52 university teacher teams (281 respondents) involved in educational change, resulting in two key findings. First, analyses of multiple leadership types showed that team learning behavior was best supported by a shared transformational leadership style that challenges the status quo and stimulates team members’ intellect. Mutual transformational encouragement supported team learning more than the vertical leadership source or empowering and initiating structure styles of leadership. Second, moderator analyses revealed that task complexity influenced the relationship between vertical empowering team leadership behavior and team learning behavior. Specifically, this finding suggests that formal team leaders who empower teamwork only affected team learning behavior when their teams perceived that their task was not complex. These findings indicate how team learning behavior can be supported in university teacher teams responsible for working toward educational change. Moreover, these findings are unique because they originate from relating multiple team leadership types to team learning behavior, examining the influence of task complexity, and studying this in an educational setting.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Higher Education
Year and volume 82 1
Key words team learning, higher education, teacher teams, team leadership behavior, shared leadership, task complexity
Digital Object Identifier
Page range 19-37

Mieke Koeslag-Kreunen