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Understanding factors affecting the teaching of teamwork in Australian higher education business schools

Riebe, Linda Margaret (2022) Understanding factors affecting the teaching of teamwork in Australian higher education business schools. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Integrating teamwork into higher education (HE) curricula has been part of the employability skills agenda for decades. Whilst HE academics have published widely on a variety of strategies utilised to implement teamwork in their teaching, there is little evidence of the interrelated factors associated with teaching teamwork and the paradoxes of critical tension points arising from challenges encountered by educators in their efforts to integrate teamwork in their courses. This thesis explores the salient influences affecting the teaching and learning of teamwork in the Australian HE business school context. The outcomes are presented in a thesis by compilation, which includes the traditional structure of introduction, literature review, methodology, findings/discussion, and conclusion chapters, along with three published articles demonstrating original, primary research.

A published global systematic literature review (SLR) identified that temporal, fiscal, psychological, and human resource transaction cost interactions for HE educators, students and institutions affected the uptake of HE teamwork. Interactions are predicated on the way in which educators derive benefits or costs from developing, coordinating, monitoring, participating in, interacting with, and evaluating HE teamwork. Transaction costs, for example, whether to engage with the employability agenda, or provide instruction in team skills, collaborative learning, curriculum design, and assessment of teamwork, represent the return on investment to educators when undertaking the teaching of teamwork. These findings are an original contribution to the HE teamwork literature as there is scant evidence of costs associated with affording or constraining HE teamwork. A second published SLR article was confined to a more rigorous review of the Australian HE teamwork literature. Numerous factors were identified as constraints to HE teamwork, with findings thematically indicating that Australian business discipline educators were mainly concerned with team formation and management, teaching and learning approaches to HE teamwork and challenges influencing teaching and learning practices, thus providing an original contribution to knowledge of the salient issues affecting the teaching and learning of teamwork in the Australian business school context.

These findings were used to inform semi-structured interview questions for a case study of business educators from a range of disciplines across four public universities in Australia. Grounded in a social constructivist paradigm, and using the case study approach, findings from 30 qualitative interviews with Australian business educators identified that performative demands on HE educators resulted in a range of critical paradox tension points, highlighting the salient influences contributing to understanding educator factors affecting the teaching of HE teamwork. Specifically focusing on the performativity paradoxes of performing/organising, performing/learning, and performing/belonging, illuminated the lived experience of business educators navigating performativity with HE teamwork and their reactions to critical tension points in their required or perceived performativity. In this thesis the third published article presented in Chapter Five, conceptualises how business school educators negotiated the inherent stresses, conflicts, and tensions in their teaching to understand, react and influence their approaches to HE teamwork.

Theoretically, the utility of transaction cost and paradox theories as heuristic conceptual lenses to understand the dynamic interactions for educators’ facilitating the teaching of teamwork is demonstrated. Conceptual understandings are expanded through the application of paradox theory in the educational context, contributing to the advancement of knowledge and/or professional practice acknowledged by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (2018) as a core aspect of HE scholarship. This is a unique feature of this study, generating original contributions to the understanding of the scholarship of teaching and learning in the field of teamwork in the Australian business school context.

Implications for theory and practice have wider application within HE and provide a sound basis for the development of teamwork as a requisite skill to satisfy not only the broader aspects of the employability agenda, but also advancement of knowledge in the field which has implications for future research, providing opportunities to broaden the scholarship of teaching and learning as it relates to the functionality of teamwork pedagogy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Business
Supervisor(s): Girardi, Antonia, Peachey, Anne, Whitsed, Craig and Smith, Tara
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