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Teamworking and service quality: the limits of employee involvement

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Abstract:

This article reports employee attitudes towards quality management (QM) at two organisations in the private services sector. It examines the nature and extent of employee involvement in QM through teamworking, describes the methods which managements use to encourage teamworking, and assesses the levels of responsibility and autonomy that teams have. Actual levels of discretion and responsibility afforded to teams are found to be low, and yet employees consistently report feeling a strong "sense of teamwork". Managers are using various mechanisms to increasingly control or limit the extent of employee "`empowerment". At the same time, however, there is strong employee support for teams, and employees feel that teamworking allows them to have more input into problem-solving and decision-making. This article argues that what has occurred in each case is a "re-organisation of control", such that there has been a general increase in the level of employee involvement, but within increasingly defined and measurable limits.

Keywords: Empowerment; Management Control; Teamwork; Total Quality Management

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/00483489910286774

Publication date: 1999-05-01

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