Purpose – Employees' work in innovation processes generates ideas, but more often it serves to create conditions so that new products or services can be effectively produced or delivered. Self‐organizational activities involve proactively handling new possibilities, unexpected situations, problems or tasks. The aim of this paper is to provide support for a previously proposed model of the determinants of self‐organizational activities in work groups. Design/methodology/approach – Three studies were conducted in organizations where self‐organizational activities are welcomed, and in a nuclear plant where such can endanger safety. The results are based on work analysis (two studies) and questionnaires (all studies) administered to, in total, 104 work groups. The model was tested using LISREL. Findings – The model received substantial support. Dimensions of job design, group processes and group initiative are interrelated and connected to self‐organizational activities. Job design captured by work analysis gives a better model fit and has a larger effect on self‐organizational activities than self‐assessed autonomy. Research limitations/implications – Five different studies with a relatively small number of groups is not a large sample, but the data could be merged. Practical implications – Teamwork can benefit the innovation process and give a return on the investment that it takes, providing that groups have a complex task, considerable freedom, and group processes that are characterized by reflectivity. A good argument for investing in teamwork is that it can promote self‐organization. Employees learn to think outside the box and participate in processes that are important for innovation. Work analysis can give input as to how work conditions might be altered to enhance innovation processes. Job design has an effect on group processes that are crucial for learning the competence to handle change. Social implications – Detailed work analysis is worthwhile as it provides data regardless of how work conditions are perceived, and gives a solid base for proposing how the work should be designed if it is to support self‐organization. Further, group processes that enhance group initiative and self‐organizational activities are identified. Originality/value – The study gives further evidence that teamwork can benefit the innovation process and give a return on the investment that it takes, providing that groups have a complex work task, considerable freedom, and group processes that are characterized by reflexivity.
Journal of Workplace Learning – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 22, 2011
Keywords: Team working; Innovation; Employees; Organizational effectiveness
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