Team communication plays a vital role in engineering management, however, there is a paucity of work that examines how team roles emerge as a response to the communicative processes between participants. This research explored role adoption using qualitative methods comprising observations, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Five student teams doing final year projects at a university in New Zealand were observed during the academic year and then interviewed at the final stage of project completion. A number of team roles in the engineering context were identified for students and their supervisors: Explorer; Initiator; Facilitator; Active and Passive Information Provider; Outsider; Active and Passive Connector; Passive Collector; Arbitrator; Gatekeeper and Representative. Personal factors, such as social sensitivity, were correlated with the choice of team behaviour pattern. In addition, the team roles could be arranged in circular order to create a circumplex, the two axes of which were identified as Personal Agency/Communion and Social engagement/Social disengagement.
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