The romance of learning from disagreement

Marianne van Woerkom*, Karin Sanders

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    89 Citations (Scopus)
    24 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of disagreement and cohesiveness on knowledge sharing in teams, and on the performance of individual team members.

    Design/methodology/approach: Data were obtained from a survey among 1,354 employees working in 126 teams in 17 organizations.

    Findings: The results show that cohesiveness has a positive effect on the exchange of advice between team members and on openness for sharing opinions, whereas disagreement has a negative effect on openness for sharing opinions. Furthermore, the exchange of advice in a team has a positive effect on the performance of individual team members and acts as a mediator between cohesiveness and individual performance.

    Implications: Managers who want to stimulate knowledge sharing processes and performance within work teams may be advised to take measures to prevent disagreement between team members and to enhance team cohesiveness.

    Originality/value: Although some gurus in organizational learning claim that disagreement has a positive effect on group processes such as knowledge sharing and team learning, this study does not support this claim.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)139-149
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of business and psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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