Queen's University IRC

Self-Directed Work Teams: A Brief Description


Chantal de la Rochelle

April 1, 1999

Faced with global competition and rapid technological change, companies are forced to develop new organizational structures to meet the challenges facing them. One alternative that has gained popularity in recent years is the team-based organization. While there are varying approaches to the designing of a team environment, one common approach is the self-directed work team (SDWT). The SDWT is responsible for a relatively whole task, not just part of a job, and each of the team members possesses a variety of skills relevant to that task. As a result, the SDWT has behavioural control and decision-making autonomy at the work group level (Manz 1992). This increase in autonomy, however, does not preclude the need for leadership and direction. Two very important roles in the SDWT are the team leader and the team facilitator.

 

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