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Who Benefits from Teams? Comparing Workers, Supervisors, and Managers

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Abstract

This article offers a political explanation for the diffusion and sustainability of team-based work systems by examining the differential outcomes of team structures for 1200 workers, supervisors, and middle managers in a large unionized telecommunications company. Regression analyses show that participation in self-managed teams is associated with significantly higher levels of perceived discretion, employment security, and satisfaction for workers and the opposite for supervisors. Middle managers who initiate team innovations report higher employment security but otherwise are not significantly different from their counterparts who are not involved in innovations. By contrast, there are no significant outcomes for employees associated with their participation in off-line problem-solving teams.

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