Learning behaviors as predictors of the performance of command-and-control teams


Selma van der Haar and Mien Segers

Further information

Introduction and position in the current literature
In case of a severe crisis situation (e.g. airplane crash) Major Incident Medical Management and Support are activated and coordinated by a command-and-control team (Hustinx, Meeuwis, & Hermans, 2002). The team task is to share information, assess the current situation, plan and decide upon actions needed. The team is highly heterogeneous and exists for a short period of time which puts high pressure on its processes as well as performance (Salas, Burke, & Samman, 2001). Although training (simulation) is organized, there are indications of an insufficient level of preparedness to effectively deal with crisis situations.  We studied team learning behaviors in command-and-control teams predicting team performance.  Former research has shown that the team learning behaviors construction,  co-construction as well as constructively dealing with conflicts contribute to team performance (Edmondson, Dillon, & Roloff, 2007; Van den Bossche, Gijselaers, Segers, & Kirschner, 2006;Van der Haar, Segers, Jehn, & Van den Bossche, 2012). However, the measurement of team learning behaviors is traditionally based on surveys or rubrics used by external. With this project, we validated prior findings in the context of control-and-command teams by optimizing the methodology used.

Research questions & hypothesis
What is the predictive value of team learning behavior for the effectiveness of command-and-control teams?

Research methods
We coded the team learning behaviors of nineteen video-taped command-and-control teams during an emergency simulation. For measuring team performance, we used the data collected for these teams as part of the PhD project of Selma van der Haar (ratings by external observers). We used non-parametric tests for the analyses.

Results & follow-ups
We found that especially if constructive conflict it is wrapped up with a conclusion it has a predictive value for team effectiveness. This finding confirms the earlier finding that team learning behavior is valuable for team effectiveness. It indicates that command-and-control teams need to be trained in being critical and that this eventually will enhance preparedness. The results are presented at the Earli conference 2013 and are now being prepared for submission to a scientific journal. Two master students have based their thesis on this project.


  • Hustinx, P., Meeuwis, D., & Hermans, R. (2002). Geneeskundig management bij grootschalige incidenten (Major incident medical management and support: The practical approach). The Netherlands, Utrecht: De Tijdstroom.
  • Salas, E., Burke, C. S., & Samman, S. N. (2001). Understanding command and control teams operating in complex environments. Information Knowledge Systems Management, 2, 311-323.
  • Edmondson, A. C., Dillon, J. R., & Roloff, K. S. (2007). Three perspectives on team learning: Outcome improvement, task mastery, and group process. The Academy of Management Annals, 1(1), 269–314.
  • Van den Bossche, P., Gijselaers, W. H., Segers, M., & Kirschner, P. A. (2006). Social and cognitive factors driving teamwork in collaborative learning environments: Team learning beliefs and behaviors. Small Group Research, 37(5), 490-521.
  • Van der Haar, S., Segers, M.R.S., Van den Bossche, P. & Jehn, K.A. (Paper revised and resubmitted). Investigating the relation between team learning processes and the team situation model. Small Group Research.
  • Van der Haar, S. (February, 2014). Getting on the same page: team learning and team cognition in emergency management teams. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands.