Change processes and team implementation : strategic and operational issues
This is a study of the organisational change to self-managed team working in UK-based manufacturing organisations. There are few models to guide research into the organisational change to team working and this study focuses on the under-researched area of the implementation process. Descriptions of team development models imply a smooth, linear change process. Yet this strategic change involves major restructuring at an operational level and in reality is a complex and political transition process that unfolds in unpredictable directions. This research proposes a processual framework to explore team development and to increase understanding of the ways in which this transition is shaped at critical junctures. This research was based on case study data collected over periods of up to five years in four brownfield, manufacturing organisations. This data provided detailed illustrations of the major challenges facing organisations in the transition to self-management. Specifically, the research findings indicated that the change to self-managed team working was an unfolding, non-linear process and that its success was shaped not only by the congruence between team design and production setting, but also by the congruence between new work structures and supporting organisational arrangements. Senior management commitment was pivotal to the success of the change process, as were clear definitions of operational roles and required actions and behaviours. Finally, the research indicated the importance of key players adopting appropriate change-driver roles and of paying attention to political tensions and perceived threats associated with changes to traditional role demarcations. This research increases understanding of the implementation and development of self managed work teams at an operational level and the results may be of considerable practical use for organisations in determining their strategies for organisational change and development.