Belbin is credited with being the father of Team Role Theory, and his pioneering research helped to identify elements that are required for a successful team. His pivotal work, Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail (1981) has increased with importance over time, due to the widespread focus of building teams and teamwork, within organizations.
While working at the Industrial Training Research Unit in Cambridge, he was asked by Henley Management College to conduct research into the operation of management teams. During this research, Belbin realized that it was the individual personalities, not the merits of the individuals, that had a determining factor on the success of the team. He determined that there were 8 useful roles that are necessary for a successful team.