Theses Doctoral

Hiking the Horizontal: Team Learning Behaviors and Team Innovative Work Behavior in Cross-boundary Public Sector Work Teams

Pelzer, Nicholas L.

Organizations need to develop innovations to meet emerging problems and challenges due to increasing global competition, customer expectations, or market changes. Responding to these challenges requires employees to create solutions within their organizations, such as new products or processes. While some research has found crucial roles of individual faculty in the innovation process, less is known about how individual educators (i.e., university faculty and clinical practitioners) work across knowledge and organizational boundaries.The purpose of this case study on team innovative work behavior (TIWB) in higher education was to learn more about which team learning behaviors (TLBs) and team innovative work behaviors (TIWBs) were exhibited by a university-based cross-boundary work team to understand how these complex organizations can leverage learning toward practice improvement. The purposefully selected sample was composed of an 11 member California-based work team consisting of 5 faculty members from a redesigning public university, 4 senior administrators from partnering public school districts, and 2 faculty members from a partnering mentor program. The primary data collection method was in depth critical incident (CI) interviews. Supportive methods included a pre-interview questionnaire, field observations, document and artifact review, and a group interview. The data were coded and analyzed first by research question, and then findings were organized thematically in alignment with three analytic categories based on the study’s conceptual framework.

The research revealed that the team exhibited several TLBs and one TIWB throughout the redesign process. The team’s capacity for learning and innovating was strongly influenced by the organizational conditions that brought the team together as well as the team’s leadership and facilitation. While few of the team members were able to articulate their own learning and practice changes explicitly, they did reflect on their learning in the context of task completion and goal achievement.
Recommendations are offered for university and district practitioners, and for further research, including: (1) identifying a team leader with both positional and reputational authority, (2) selecting a team based on existing relationships and shared commitment to change, (3) using evidence to challenge existing assumptions, and (4) aligning activities to organizational and environmental forces.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Marsick, Victoria J.
Yorks, Lyle
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2021