Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 1 2005, page 9-26.
English resume

Who manages self-managing teams?

Søren Voxted

The aim of this article is to examine who and how management is carried out in self-managing teams. More specifically, I examine who carries out management inside self-managing teams in industrial production.

The outset of this revised theoretical view is a case study in a larger Danish machine industry. One of the results of my study of this company’s organisation of work was, that the changes and the establishment of self-managing teams has led to a situation where every employee has more than one manager. In most cases these ‘managers’ are either colleges from within the group or operators in the staff. What makes them managers is the fact that they are authorised (empowered) to carry out tasks related to the co-ordination of other employees’ work through direct instructions. The company has, in other words, established what I term functional management. This type of management differs from self-management and common management, which are typically associated with team-organisation.

Frederick W. Taylor inspires my use of the concept functional management. He worked with a model of leadership in which the employees had more leaders distributed on basis of the sub-functions that are included in a traditional leader’s tasks. But whereas the precondition for Taylor’s functional management was a rountinization of work, and the separation of work and its co-ordination, functional management is, in this company, an instrument to handle a complex and changeable production.

My conclusion on the case is that an organisation of work based on self-managing teams within the industry occasions a demand for principles of management, which are not merely different from previous practice. They can neither be captured by the new principles of management, which are commonly brought in play in studies of teamwork. On the contrary there is a need for a new theoretical view, which both takes into account a heterogeneous composition of the teams and the need for close coordination with the rest of the organisation. The aim of this article is, as previously mentioned, to contribute to the development of such a theoretical proposal.

Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)




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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
editor Jørgen Burchardt