The EBTD Abstracts
(Experience-based Training & Development Research Studies) 
 This research represents work by Dr. Simon Priest & colleagues during his tenure as Full Professor and Founding Director of the Corporate Adventure Training Institute in Canada (1989-1997).
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Corporate adventure training can be an effective means to develop teams


For team building programs to be effectively utilized back at the office, they should be conducted on intact work units, rather than random samplings, and resources should be dedicated to encourage practice of team behaviors


Follow-up procedures have a significant impact on transfer of learning


CAT programs may assist companies to change their corporate cultures


CAT programs may help companies to change their motivational climate


A day of rappelling brought about changes in risk taking propensity, as reported by managers, in a series of business related risk taking scenarios


The ropes course was an effective tool for influencing risk taking propensity. The use of isomorphs was not found to create any further risk taking change


Qualitative evidence of the effectiveness of corporate adventure training


Experiential learning about teamwork was more effec0tive than classroom


Combined staff of adventure facilitators paired with corporate trainers seem to provide the best organizational team building outcomes in CAT programs


A mix of metaphoric debriefing (first half of CAT program) and isomorphic framing (second half) shows the greatest teamwork acquisition and retention


Sequencing was critically important to creating teamwork. An inappropriate order of CAT activities can retard development of a high performing team


Overall trustworthiness, being effected in a CAT program, has 5 sub-scales: acceptance, believability, confidentiality, dependability and encouragement


Physicality in CAT programs influences the development of trust. Physical activities play an important role in such programs and should not be omitted


Using clients to belay develops trust between partners better than employing facilitators or technicians in this role (which can reduce partnership trust)


The ropes course had a profound effect on the enhancement of confidence. Specific debriefing (focused on self-confidence) was more effective than general debriefing (about various process topics) for three of five subscales


Providers interested in creating gains in trust toward an organization can apply either group initiatives, ropes courses or a combination of approaches to the need. Customizing to meet client needs should not be ignored


Group performance in initiative tasks can be useful tools for measuring teamwork. Time to complete tasks may be more objective than self-reports


For males, highest heart rates attained on a ropes course can be predicted (with 64% explained variance and 36% error) from age, height, weight, body girths, time to walk a mile and heart rate after walking a mile


Touch plays an important role in the development of interpersonal trust


Recreational or educational programs can bring developmental changes


Adventure programs can impact the bottom line, but without follow-up procedures they can be "one shot wonders," falling short of expectations


Program duration impacted teamwork development, program setting didn't


Program design impacted teamwork development, program location didn't


Solution-focused facilitation approach works best with dysfunctional group


all-women's programming (incomplete).


executive leadership canoe expedition (incomplete).


frontloading versus funnelling (incomplete).


demographic interactions (incomplete).


facilitation training for managers (incomplete).


Corporate adventure training (CAT) or experience-based training and development (EBTD) programming are mostly utilized to improve teamwork. Quantitative (#1) and qualitative (#8) evidence, both objective (#18) and subjective, suggest that these programs can be effective, and may be a better choice for building teams than the usual classroom program (#9). However, without program follow-up, any acquisition of teamwork may not be maintained over time (#3). Unsupported gains in teamwork often fail to transfer to the workplace and return to baseline values in about six months (#22). Barriers to the transfer of learning include: not doing team building with intact units, not starting with executives and cascading the effect to other levels, and not providing time, tasks or resources to practice teamwork on the job (#2).

Trust is a critical and integral part of teamwork. At least five types of trust are present in CAT programs: acceptance, believability, confidentiality, dependability, and encouragement (#13). The physical nature of CAT programs (#14) and the use of touch (#20) are important program elements that contribute to develop certain kinds of trust. The use of program activities (ropes courses versus group initiatives) favor the development of different kinds of trust (#17). The role of the clients in actively caring for their own safety is critical for trust to be maintained, while the use of "experts" can interfere with the creation of trust (#15).

CAT or EBTD programs can also benefit individuals and organizations as well as teams. Willingness to take risks can be positively influenced by program activities such as rappelling or abseilling (#6), ropes or challenge courses (#7), and rock climbing (#21). Programs with entire workforces have contributed to improved corporate culture (#4) and motivational climate (#5). Out of concern for maintaining safety, heart rate predictions have been conducted for a mixed group of males over the age of 40 (#19).

Other than safety, the single most important indicator of program quality is facilitation. Partnerships of company trainers with CAT or EBTD trainers seem to provide the best combination (#10). The use of advanced techniques such as isomorphic framing (#11) and solution-focused facilitation (#25) appear to add great value to program outcomes, especially the latter with dysfunctional groups. Debriefing about a specific learning objective tends to be more useful than debriefing about the general experience (#16).

Other program elements can contribute to overall effectiveness. Sequencing of activities is critical to the success of a program and in some cases incorrect ordering can retard the development of teamwork (#12). The length of a program (#23) and it's customized nature (#24) can have extra benefit, while program location and setting don't appear to be too influential over learning outcomes.