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Management Structure and Work Team Processes; Responsibilities and Responsiveness


  • Ben S. Kuipers

    () (Faculty of Management and Organization, University of Groningen)

  • Marco C. de Witte

    () (Faculty of Management and Organization, University of Groningen)


This paper explores the management structure of the team-based organization. First it provides a theoretical model of structures and processes of work teams. The structure determines the team’s responsibilities in terms of authority and expertise about specific regulation tasks. The responsiveness of teams to these responsibilities are the processes of teamwork, in terms of three dimensions, indicating to what extent teams indeed use the space provided to them. The research question that this paper addresses is to what extent the position of responsibilities in the team-based organization affect team responsiveness. This is done by two hypotheses. First, the effect of the so-called proximity of regulation tasks is tested. It is expected that the responsibility for tasks positioned higher in the organization (i.e. further from the team) generally has a negative effect on team responsiveness, whereas tasks positioned lower in the organization (i.e. closer to the team) will have a positive effect on the way in which teams respond. Second, the relationship between the number of tasks for which the team is responsible with team responsiveness is tested. Theory suggests that teams being responsible for a larger number of tasks perform better, i.e. show higher responsiveness. These hypotheses are tested by a study of 109 production teams in the automotive industry. The results show that, as the theory predicts, increasing numbers of responsibilities have positive effects on team responsiveness. However, the delegation of expertise to teams seems to be the most important predictor of responsiveness. Also, not all regulation tasks show to have effects on team responsiveness. Most tasks do not show to have any significant effect at all. A number of tasks affects team responsiveness positively, when their responsibility is positioned lower in the organization, but also a number of tasks affects team responsiveness positively when located higher in the organization, i.e. further from the teams in the production. The results indicate that more attention can be paid to the distribution of responsibilities, in particular expertise, to teams. Indeed delegating more expertise improve team responsiveness, however some tasks might be located better at higher organizational levels, indicating that there are limitations to what responsibilities teams can handle.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben S. Kuipers & Marco C. de Witte, 2006. "Management Structure and Work Team Processes; Responsibilities and Responsiveness," Enterprise and Work Innovation Studies, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, IET/CICS.NOVA-Interdisciplinary Centre on Social Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, vol. 2(2), pages 53-68, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ieu:journl:v:2:y:2006:i:2:p:53-68

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