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Meredith Belbin

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The father of Team Roles, Meredith Belbin re�lects on his long learning journey that still continues

photography by Jeremy Pembrey/Pembrey Studio D

r Raymond Meredith Belbin originally identifi ed the Team Roles now

synonymous with his name while researching teams at Henley Business School during the 1970s. Belbin grew up in Kent and was

educated at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe during the disruption of war-torn Britain. He won a place at Clare College, Cambridge where he read classics and was a rowing partner with David Attenborough. It was here he met his fi rst wife, Eunice, who became a major infl uence on his work and the development of the Team Roles. While working at the Industrial

Training Research Unit and Cranfi eld, he was invited to carry out research at the Administrative Staff College in Henley-on-T ames, now Henley Business School. Working with Eunice and Bill Hartston (a mathematician and international chess master), Jeanne Fisher (an anthropologist) and Roger Mottram (an occupational psychologist) Belbin began the research project on management teams in action that was to infl uence training

12 | July 2017 |

and developing teams for decades. In 1981, Meredith Belbin

expounded Team Role theory in his seminal book, Management Teams: Why T ey Succeed or Fail. T e book was later named as one of the top 50 man- agement books of all time. In 1993, Team Roles at Work was published and Belbin continues to write to this day. At 91 he still takes an active interest in the business, although

Cambridge days: Belbin, second from back in the nearest boat, with David Att enborough immediately in front of him

spends his time with his family and caring for his beautiful garden in rural Cambridgeshire.

Why training and how did you start?

My doctoral dissertation at Cambridge dealt with the issues of older workers in industry and what happened to them. In the 1950s, they were on the scrapheap once they lost their jobs because they were “too old to learn”. 


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