The Impact of Interdisciplinary Teams on Organizational Relationships

  • ATINER (Athens Institute for Education and Research)
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Based upon research in an alcoholism treatment organization, the study explores the impact of interdisciplinary team treatment on organizational participants and structure. The findings suggest that alternate organizational arrangements are necessary for organizations which use the team method. The implications of team treatment for professionals were confounded because of power relationships within the organization. Role bargaining between professionals was observed to be virtually non-existent because of the dominance of a single discipline. A surprising finding was the extent to which supervisory personnel were disadvantaged in the study. Caution is suggested for those organizations most likely to adopt the team method, large public health organizations.

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... Many of the findings published on characteristics of work groups, practices, and climates-specifically, as they relate to productivity-are actually based upon scientists in industrial, governmental, and agency, rather than academic, settings (see Buzaglo & Wheelan, 1999;Devine, Clayton, Philips, Dunford, & Melner, 1999;Fry & Miller, 1974;Ilgen, 1999;Milliken & Martins, 1996;Pelz & Andrews, 1976;Schneider, 1990). Other studies, focusing on scientists in higher education, in particular, have addressed the relationship between productivity and work practices (Hargens, 1978), or work styles (Sonnert & Holton, 1985), or collaboration (Gordon, 1980). ...
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This article advances understandings of the ways in which key elements of the social-organizational characteristics of work and publication productivity operate among academic scientists in doctoral-granting departments. Findings point to new formulations about the importance of a particular team composition and of collaboration, work practices, and departmental work climates.
As regular participants on multidisciplinary teams, social workers often find the experience professionally unrewarding and question the quality of service delivered to clients by this approach. Two common explanations for failure include the lack of understanding by other disciplines of the social work role and personality conflicts. This article suggests that such explanations are simplistic. A structural functional analysis of the attributes of a profession is used as a peg on which to hang a discussion as to why successful teamwork is so difficult to achieve. Attempts at problem resolution are also discussed.
Strains between the professions of medicine and social work continue to exist as a result of basic differences in histories, values and socialization processes of the two professions. This paper suggests that collaboration between them will be enhanced by the identification of social work as a resource for the physician. The concepts of negotiation and exchange are utilized as the basis for collaborative strategies by individual social workers and on the departmental level.
The principle of hierarchy involved in Weber's conception of bureaucracy is incompatible with preservation of the individual authority required by professionals in their work. Available analyses indicate, however, that even among non-professionals the relationships between superordinates and subordinates in a work hierarchy are likely to deviate from those outlined by Weber in that they are affected by the norms and values workers bring to the situation. The present study of the norms, values, and behavior exhibited by an hierarchically organized group of physicians in a medical center suggests that supervisory relationships among physicians represent an extreme case of such deviation. It also provides clues regarding specific social mechanisms that serve to reconcile maintenance of individual authority with hierarchical organization.
An earlier case study confirmed some elements of a social-psychological formulation of Weber's organizational model and discontinued others. Close relationships among authority, control, formal training, and legitimacy were found, but impersonality was not characteristic of the organization, and no evidence was found to link organizational knowledge derived from experience to the distribution of formal training or to the distribution of unofficial control. The present research replicates this study in four additional organizations. Again the relationships among authority, control, training, and legitimacy are close, and strong evidence against impersonality is found. Finally, an unusual amount of the unofficial control is exercised in all the organizations, but no evidence indicates that this challenges the official structure of authority in any of the organizations.
In the preceding issue the author posited a distinction between manifest and latent social roles as a basis for analyzing two types of latent organizational roles or identities. Three variables for differentiating latent roles were suggested: loyalty to the organization; commitment to professional skills and values; and reference group orientations. Cosmopolitans and locals were distinguished in terms of these three variables. Certain differences were found between cosmopolitans and locals in terms of influence, participation, acceptance of organizational rules, and informal relations. In the following essay, factor analysis is used to refine the above concepts. Types of locals and types of cosmopolitans are differentiated, and it is suggested that these two identities may reflect the tension between the organization's simultaneous need for both loyalty and expertise.
This paper describes the systems of relationships and manner of operation of several hospital wards. Data from these settings suggest three concepts of understanding the behavior of the participants. One is elastic autonomy: the autonomy of an actor is not fixed, but expands and contracts according to others' assessments of his professional competence. The second is accountability: an actor is held to be accountable or responsible for his decisions and actions. Third is monitoring: the process by which actors keep track of each other's performance. Contingencies affecting autonomy are discussed, as are the relationships between these concepts and those of bureaucratic theory.
Based upon a series of previous studies and ongoing research in three different organizations, this paper argues that bureaucratic theory is of limited value in the analysis of professional organizations. Professionals create their own distinctive social organization within a larger organization. A language of political process--emphasizing negotiation and shifting alliances--is more relevant to understanding such organizations.
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