Self-Managing Teams, Traditional Teams and the Iron Cage: Re-Examining the Managerial Hegemony Thesis
Ferguson, Andrew Leon
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This study engages a debate among those who study teams in organizations. More specifically, it addresses the managerial hegemony thesis by examining self-managing teams and traditional teams. Two main questions are addressed: (1) Do these two types of teams produce different results for group members and their endorsement of an organizational system and (2) does treating key concepts in the debate as theoretical constructs that vary along a continuum rather than as empirical absolutes help further or resolve the debate regarding the managerial hegemony thesis? Predictions were based on two theoretical scenarios that were developed to explain how team structure makes group members experience more or less conflict and more or less resistance as well as how groups experience more or less group value consensus and managerial hegemony. To test these predictions, 188 participants were randomly assigned to two conditions. The experimental design manipulates at least one key characteristic of team structure: Operational autonomy. Teams performed the same task and group interactions were videotaped. After the experiment, participants completed a survey regarding their feelings about the task, each other, and their supervisors. Results demonstrate that team structure often had significant main effects. Two of three types of intra-group conflict were found to be significantly greater in traditional teams than self-managing teams. However, no significant difference in group value consensus between the two conditions was found. Consequently, differences in managerial hegemony between the two types of teams were not possible to determine.