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Abstract

People at work have been tyrannized by a team ideology based on the use of work groups as a key to effective organizational performance. The hegemony of this ideology has created an obsession with teams in workplaces governed by oppressive stereotypes of what teams should be like and how they should behave. This paper examines four elements of the prevailing team ideology - the way work in groups is defined, links between individual motivation and organizational performance, views of leadership, and the effects of power, conflict and emotion in work groups. Some alternative perspectives on team behaviour elucidate the ways in which the prevailing paradigm ultimately hinders groups and tyrannizes the individual team member - by camouflaging coercion and conflict with the appearance of consultation and cohesion. Examination of the limits and effects of the ideology provide the basis for an alternative understanding of the strengths, constraints and complexities of group work.
... There are implications here, regarding social space, with how time is structured within the working week and how opportunities for productive dialogue between the team are created within schools at each stage of the process (Dering et al., 2006). However, critics of teamwork (Sennett, 1998;Sinclair, 1992) suggest it is superficially demeaning and a form of ideological tyranny (Hall, 2002). Sinclair suggests the need to analyse teams in terms of the degree of coercion, not cohesion, within the team; the concealment of conflict under the guise of consensus; conformity stemming creativity; the pretence of corporate decision-making; delayed action through consultation; and the obfuscation of expedient arguments and personal agendas (Sinclair, 1992). ...
... However, critics of teamwork (Sennett, 1998;Sinclair, 1992) suggest it is superficially demeaning and a form of ideological tyranny (Hall, 2002). Sinclair suggests the need to analyse teams in terms of the degree of coercion, not cohesion, within the team; the concealment of conflict under the guise of consensus; conformity stemming creativity; the pretence of corporate decision-making; delayed action through consultation; and the obfuscation of expedient arguments and personal agendas (Sinclair, 1992). ...
Thesis
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This study of teamwork explored the different factors which influenced the effective teamwork in senior leadership teams (SLTs) in five English secondary schools. The research identified these factors and their positive, negative, or both positive and negative influence and how that influence was experienced in their teamwork. The importance of getting communication right, maintaining a work / life balance and the continuing government expectation to deliver results in a political context that is constantly changing, not least in a pandemic (Varela and Fedynich, 2020), illustrate some of the issues faced by SLTs that influence their effective work in running a school. A mixed methods case study approach, with a dual methodology of survey and semi-structured interview for data collection with the headteacher (HT) and members of each leadership team, was employed, applying both qualitative content analyses to ascertain patterns and themes of influence and quantitative ANOVA statistical analyses to confirm the significance of the factors and their influence. The research was encapsulated in a conceptual framework which succinctly illustrated the factors internal or external to the team, related to the national and school contexts. Key factors and their influence were univariate and included the government and finances (negative influences) and leadership and support (positive influences), and a bivariate influence, which included the students and staff. Through a mixed methods study on senior leadership teamwork in schools and the development of a theoretical framework and diagnostic model, this thesis extends the work of previous scholars such as Morgeson et al. (2010) and Herzberg (1959). It provides eight recommendations on how to manage key factors and their influence on teamwork more effectively. Of interest to SLTs in schools, with implications for leadership teams in broader workplace settings, the research findings will be of benefit to academic research, policy makers and practitioners alike.
... 4 Whyte's monument and his context's antiquarian legacy could be to inspire us to look at aspects that Janis's research platform, and the likes of Google's research in the present, is not concerned with. Whyte provides another conceptual foundation for exploring the 'dark side' of groups, supplementing the Weberian iron cage of concertive control in selfmanaging teams (Barker, 1993) and labour process and poststructuralist theorizations of team discipline through surveillance and power/knowledge processes (Sewell, 1998;Sinclair, 1992). New communication technologies that are enabling organizations to manage through the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Microsoft Teams, have extended managerial control beyond traditional temporal and spatial boundaries of organizations. ...
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Irving Janis’s concept of ‘groupthink’, the idea that a collective desire for consensus overrides the realistic appraisals of alternatives and leads to poor group decision making, is a staple of social science textbooks. Despite gaining little support in empirical studies, Janis’s eight symptoms of groupthink remains a popular framework. What has been forgotten, however, is that nearly 20 years before Janis’s supposed invention, groupthink was coined by social critic William H Whyte, author of one of the 1950s, most influential books on management. Adding to the growing interest in a historical turn in Management and Organization Studies, we investigate how and why Whyte’s groupthink was over-written by a history that found Janis’s ideas more useful, and outline how recovering Whyte can add value to our thinking now.
... Participants in these conversations acknowledge how white-collar work is "increasingly rigidly controlled and monitored", often through "sophisticated technological surveillance techniques, peer surveillance, and cultural controls which commonly accompany these developments" (Barratt, 2003(Barratt, , p. 1074. Similar practices are increasingly adopted in other domains, including teamwork (e.g., Sinclair, 1992) and, as I have demonstrated, cleaning work. I join this conversation by arguing that organizational policies (such as audits and inspections with hundreds of criteria) codify and justify managerial practices (such as surveillance), which ultimately undermine relationships between supervisors and subordinates, as well as the quality of work-life for frontline personnel (who already lack autonomy and control at work). ...
Thesis
The growth of neoliberal ideologies since the 1970s has (re)structured many organizations in the U.S., including education. University administrators in a neoliberal climate are pressured to expand facilities and matriculation while minimizing labor costs. One way they accomplish this is by privatizing services, including cleaning. Private commercial cleaning companies often provide staffing, training, workloading, and performance evaluation. Administrators contracting these companies are able to save money by displacing responsibility for human resources functions. Although neoliberal practices (e.g., privatization) appear to offer benefits for organizations’ bottom-lines and senior leaders, less is known about the impact on frontline personnel. Addressing this gap, my dissertation addresses two questions: How does neoliberal discourse shape organizational practices? And how does such discourse affect the lived experience of cleaning work? To answer these questions, I conducted a content analysis of a commercial cleaning company to examine the discursive strategies used to legitimize the regulation of cleaners and cleaning work. I then conducted a case study of four cleaners, and the ways their work has changed over time (as a function of working within or outside of the commercial cleaning system). The content analysis reflects the intention of the cleaning management system, whereas the case study reflects the implementation of the system from cleaners’ perspectives. In the content analysis, language around cleaning was couched in seemingly positive neoliberal language: progress, professionalization, profit maximization, and prescription as a means of efficiency. In particular, communication from the commercial cleaning management system reflected three primary ‘discursive regimes’ to justify its organizational strategy: the need for a science of cleaning, professionalization, and environmental responsibility. Yet, these discursive regimes often were referenced in service of greater regulation over cleaners and their work. The language of neoliberalism casts many service workers (including cleaners) as unskilled, unprofessional, incompetent, and unmotivated, thus justifying greater control over workers and their labor. To examine how such discourse shapes the experience of work, I then conducted a case study of four cleaners: two of whom work under the cleaning management system content-analyzed in the first study, and two of whom were exempt from the system. Three themes emerged from participants’ narratives: how the cleaning system shapes the experience and organization of work, how cleaners protect themselves, and the discursive resources used to narrate these experiences. I found that the approach to managing and organizing cleaning work prescribed by the commercial cleaning system contributes to dignity injuries for cleaners through four mechanisms: deskilling, objectifying, surveilling, and infantilizing. Cleaners responded to these injuries via four practices to restore dignity: distancing from work, idealizing the past, reversing infantilization, and narratively constructing a moral(ized) self. I found that narratives are an important resource for sharing stories of organizational suffering, as well as discursively constructing dignity. This project demonstrates how power flows through ideologies, institutions, and individuals; and how neoliberalism shapes the experience of work. These results carry important theoretical and practical implications for dignity, occupational health, and the (re)organization of service work in a neoliberal climate. Greater standardization of work may save money for institutions—but at the expense of service workers who enable these savings. Neoliberalism enables the expansion of ivory towers by exploiting the people who construct, clean, and maintain them. I conclude with a discussion about the production of suffering and (in)dignity in organizations, and possibilities for institutional transformation.
... When employees work together to generate their own social rules, this can give rise to a feeling of collective empowerment (e.g., Barker, 1993;Sinclair, 1992). This refers to a belief that, to reach specific ends, an individual can influence other people or events in an organization or a group (Greenberger & Strasser, 1986;Kanter, 1977). ...
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Increasingly, organizations have been employing self‐managing teams to circumvent bureaucratic controls and stimulate innovation. However, this goal is not easily achieved; in many situations, informal controls replace formal controls. This study develops a multi‐level perspective of control. We explicitly analyze control mechanisms at different levels of the organization and how they affect innovative team output. We theorize and empirically investigate a potential downside of horizontal social control mechanisms at the team level (i.e., peer pressure) affecting self‐managing teams’ innovative outcomes. We also discuss managerial control mechanisms at the organizational level (i.e., interactive and diagnostic management control systems) that may help to mitigate such negative effects. We theorize how they may influence the innovative output of self‐managing teams, both directly and interactively. We chose a multi‐level, multi‐source setting for our study and ran three parallel surveys with employees in a Fortune 500 firm. 248 team members, 126 internal team leaders, and 97 organizational leaders enabled us to create a unique database of 97 self‐managing software development teams. Our findings confirm that peer pressure is common among established agile teams and that it negatively influences the innovative output of the agile teams. Moreover, our findings show that the magnitude of the effect of peer pressure is contingent on control mechanisms at higher levels within the organization. This enables us to provide new theoretical insights regarding the paradoxical effect of managerial control systems when it comes to flat organizations and autonomous teams. Additionally, we provide practical guidelines for managers who increasingly adopt agile practices but at the same time face issues with regard to innovation. This article is part of the Special Issue on “The Human Side of Innovation Management.”
... Another factor that may facilitate or hinder the extent to which team members voice their opinions and integrate critical yet uniquely held information into their decisions is the extent to which there is clarity about who is responsible for leadership in the team. Leadership has often been proposed to be crucial for team effectiveness (Hackman, 1990;Cohen and Bailey, 1997;Carson et al., 2007), and some have argued that it is the most critical ingredient (Sinclair, 1992;Zaccaro et al., 2001). In this respect, most leadership research has focused on the effects of a single formally appointed leader on team processes and performance, with some more attention having been paid in recent years to other forms of leadership, such as emergent leadership (e.g., Taggar et al., 1999;Cogliser et al., 2012;Yammarino, 2012) and shared/distributed leadership (Carson et al., 2007; for reviews see Pearce and Conger, 2003;Pearce and Manz, 2005;D'Innocenzo et al., 2014;Sun et al., 2016). ...
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The effectiveness of decision-making teams depends largely on their ability to integrate and make sense of information. Consequently, teams which more often use majority decision-making may make better quality decisions, but particularly so when they also have task representations which emphasize the elaboration of information relevant to the decision, in the absence of clear leadership. In the present study we propose that (a) majority decision-making will be more effective when task representations are shared, and that (b) this positive effect will be more pronounced when leadership ambiguity (i.e., team members’ perceptions of the absence of a clear leader) is high. These hypotheses were put to the test using a sample comprising 81 teams competing in a complex business simulation for seven weeks. As predicted, majority decision-making was more effective when task representations were shared, and this positive effect was more pronounced when there was leadership ambiguity. The findings extend and nuance earlier research on decision rules, the role of shared task representations, and leadership clarity.
... More importantly, supervisors and managers need to demonstrate knowledge of effective communication skills and listening strategies in order to successfully engage staff in the supervision process (Hassall, 2009). A program manager or supervisor should provide team members with the information they require to do a good job (Sinclair, 1992). A manager or supervisor must communicate with his or her team frequently and provide clear guidelines on the results that are expected (Katz & Kahn, 1978). ...
Research
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This narrative study explored the experiences of five state employees who were either managers or supervisors. The subjects shared their experiences with the process and effectiveness of their employee performance rating system (EPRS) to remediate skills gaps in one of the agencies under the Secretariat of the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). Nine study conclusions emerged from the study. First, EPRS helps to remediate skills gaps and identify areas that need special attention. Second, regional executive leaders have supported EPRS implementation to a large extent. Third, EPRS provides a justification to reward high-performing staff though the current various job descriptions upon which the reviews are based need to be updated to meet present needs. Fourth, the EPRS process is effective when management displays a culture of clear and respectful communication, clear and consistent review of targets, and when there is regular positive feedback. Fifth, EPRS puts managers and supervisors in charge of the process, and their direct involvement is relevant given their working relationship with their staff, though this part of their role may not be valued by some of their staff. Sixth, the agency’s EPRS process faces some challenges such as rigidity, bureaucracy, cumbersomeness, lack of co-operation from staff, lack of clarity of the process, and influence from some program directors. Seventh, the lack of effectiveness of the EPRS process affects business operations and growth and leads to demotivation and low productivity. Eighth, some of the staff seem to be displeased with the entire EPRS process and do not believe it provides accurate information as the agency’s EPRS process hasn’t been updated for a very long time. Finally, the EPRS has shaped the thinking and attitudes of managers and supervisors to help monitor staff’s performance and harness their abilities so they can perform better to achieve agency vision and mission.
... More importantly, supervisors and managers need to demonstrate knowledge of effective communication skills and listening strategies in order to successfully engage staff in the supervision process (Hassall, 2009). A program manager or supervisor should provide team members with the information they require to do a good job (Sinclair, 1992). A manager or supervisor must communicate with his or her team frequently and provide clear guidelines on the results that are expected (Katz & Kahn, 1978). ...
Thesis
Cette recherche porte sur les dynamiques des conflits interpersonnels et leur pilotage au sein des organisations sociales et médico-sociales. Pour cela, nous mobilisons une méthodologie qualitative centrée sur trois études de cas : les Restos du coeur, la Reposance et l’institut médico-éducatif Malécot. Nous mettons en évidence trois niveaux de résultats. Tout d’abord, nous montrons les conditions d’identification d’un conflit interpersonnel constructif ou destructeur. Ensuite, nous identifions les leviers de régulation qui rendent un conflit interpersonnel constructif. Enfin, l’analyse des cas et leur confrontation avec le modèle conceptuel montre l’interaction entre la nature et les déterminants des conflits interpersonnels à travers deux mécanismes : les mécanismes de régulation du conflit interpersonnel et les mécanismes de l’approche configurationnelle.
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Changing the nature of a team, changes the information structure. Changes to team membership, the way it works, or the way its performance is monitored change the information structure. When new team members are introduced, their new information must be assimilated into the team's existing information structure, requiring time and effort that some team members won't want to spend.
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This is an open source monograph about the economics of teams and the collection of intelligence in an espionage, counter-intelligence context. Our focus is decision-making, including search processes, under ambiguity or true uncertainty and the way that idiosyncratic human reactions to ambiguity affect team decision-making in intelligence agencies.
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Presents a brief taxonomy of motivation theory, and outlines the general issues relating to the development and testing of current theories of motivation. Focus is on the extent to which the cognitive revolution in psychology that began in the early 1960's is manifest in theories of work motivation, and areas in which cognitive mechanisms need greater representation are suggested. The concept of middle-range theories is discussed that was introduced by C. C. Pinder (1984) in a recent book in which he argues for smaller theories of motivation. It is argued that these middle-range theories can be linked to particular dependent variables (e.g., need, equity, reinforcement, expectancy, goals). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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A classic study which, by synthesizing the approaches of psychoanalysis and group dynamics, has added a new dimension to the understanding of group phenomena.
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This article provides a case study of administering a school, showing how talk is central to the achievement of control. Analysis of extracts of a transcript of talk by and with the principal shows school administrators trying to direct and control the deployment of personnel in conformity with their wills and intents. A principal and his two immediate subordinates do this with their words in their talk with one another, in the corridor, the principal's office, and in the staff room. The analysis shows that not only do administrators spend much of their time talking and that this talk accomplishes administration, but that talk is used to do the work of tightening and loosening administrative control.
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Membership in the small primary work group has been considered a major source of motivation for employees since the Hawthorne studies. Much of the early evidence from research in group dynamics and from T-group training supported this assumption. Disappointing results from long-term studies within organizations have, however, modified early enthusiasm. This has led to current concern with problems of power equalization and the role of the rank-and-file worker. Attention is drawn to recent work of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations with autonomous work groups, which goes far towards solving the problems of worker motivation, participation, and power equalization.
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"Statecraft"—the use of persuasion and informal authority to mobilize coalitions to accomplish goals—is a little-recognized but critical element of strategic leadership. In exercising statecraft, top managers continually move back and forth across the "boundary" between the firm and a wide variety of constituencies, paying close attention to the political as well as the economic consequences of their decisions. The two central jobs of the corporate statesman are managing the core coalition assembled to achieve corporate purpose and maintaining the balance between the technocratic and political systems of the firm.
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A laboratory study of 28 three man problem solving groups investigated the relationships among task demands, group interaction profiles, and group performance. The Collins and Guetzkow model of processes in decision making groups provided a general guide for the research. Task demands significantly shaped task interaction profiles. Task demands affected only one group performance quality dimension, contrary to earlier research. Significant correlations were found between group performance levels and specific task behaviors. The research suggests that studying simultaneously selected input, process, and output variables is both useful and necessary for the development of more refined models of small group processes.
Article
Most of the research literature on group dynamics has either ignored the subject of within-group conflict or sought ways to "resolve" it as a consequence of its seemingly dysfunctional effects. We argue that there are many processes experienced as conflictual because of the models members use for understanding and managing actions, feelings, and thoughts that are in "apparent opposition." We contend that by understanding the paradoxical nature of these group processes many of the conflicts associated with these "apparent contradictions" are "released" and, hence, not in need of "resolving" because they are experienced as essential to group life, rather than extraneous. Underlying theory about the paradoxical nature of group experiences is expounded, and seven group dynamics are examined using a paradoxical epistemology. These are the paradoxes of identity, disclosure, trust, individuality, authority, regression, and creativity.