Purpose: The purpose of this paper is an examination of the literature on team boundary activity to trace how team boundary activity has evolved as a construct and examine the dimensions of team boundary activity and their relationships. It highlights the need for a deeper examination of the dimensions of buffering and reinforcement, and why buffering and reinforcement are required. It presents the case of why it is important to study this topic and maps out areas for future research. Design/methodology/approach: The paper reviews conceptual and empirical papers published on team boundary activity in reputed journals between the years 1984 and 2016. Findings: The focus of research in team boundary activity has been on external interactions of the team (boundary spanning), and very few papers have studied the activities through which the team defines and defends its borders (boundary strengthening). These boundary-strengthening activities can be equally important for innovation and learning in externally dependent teams. Further, there is a need to clearly distinguish these constructs from other variables like team identification. Another area that has here-to not been researched is the relationships between the dimensions of team boundary activity. Last, there is a need to consider a wider range of antecedents, outcomes and moderators of team boundary activity. Research limitations/implications: This paper is based on past empirical and conceptual papers, identified using search terms such as team boundary activity, team boundary spanning and external communication. Other related areas can also be explored for identifying variables of interest. Originality/value: As opposed to previous reviews which focused mainly on team boundary spanning, this paper considers all dimensions of team boundary activity, with special focus on buffering and reinforcement. It proposes a 2 × 2 framework to explain the effect of boundary-spanning and boundary-strengthening activities on the achievement of team objectives. It examines the cyclical nature of relationship between team boundary activity and team performance. It highlights measurement issues in the area of team boundary activity. © 2017, © Emerald Publishing Limited.