The research, from the Ashridge at Hult International Business School, examined the engagement levels of teams of workers, across seven different employment sectors, such as health, government, transport and not-for-profits.
It found some very motivated workers and some who were plainly disgruntled and disaffected.
But about one in five teams was a conundrum where staff appeared to be very engaged, but where teamwork and productivity were poor.
The study found when "lifting the lid" on these groups of workers, that they were undermined by staff who were successfully "gaming the system" but not really getting anything done.
Dr Armstrong said in such workplaces there can appear to be "no point to teamwork" because of the individuals who seem to benefit from their self-promotion.
Blair Mcpherson www.blairmcpherson.co.uk