Authors: Marlon O. Poe, Liezl L. Zamora, and Khael T. Quinain

Year: 2019, Volume 29 No. 1
Pages: 106-114


An emerging paradigm shift has been pervading the work climate of many contemporary organizations—the gradual reconfiguration of hierarchical work teams to self-managed work teams or SMWTs (Cohen, Ledford, & Spreitzer, 1996; Manz, 1992). Being a “loosely coupled” system, SMWTs are characterized by autonomous decision-making (Hollenbeck & Spitzmuller, 2012). This autonomy facilitates the decision-making process within the team and leads to gains in performance. Despite the growing popularity of SMWTs throughout the years, there is a paucity of research that examined the relative effectiveness of this new form of team structure than its traditional counterpart in producing high-performing work teams. A cross-sectional study investigated the team-based performance of newly implemented SMWTs versus the existing hierarchical work teams that performed the same type of work in an electronics manufacturing company in Cebu, Philippines. The findings revealed that team performance is significantly greater among process engineers in SMWTs than among process engineers in hierarchical work teams. Nonetheless, causal inferences cannot be drawn due to the cross-sectional nature of the study design. Together, insights are offered to elucidate the benefits entailed of this organizational transition from hierarchical work teams to SMWTs in enhancing team performance.

Keywords: hierarchical work teams, loosely coupled systems, self-managed work teams, team performance
JEL Classifications: L25, M10, N65