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Article citation: Aharon Tziner, (1999) "Teams: Structure, Process, Culture and Politics", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 20 Iss: 5, pp.4 - 5
Aharon Tziner, School of Business Administration, Netanya Academic College, Netanya, Israel
Teams: Structure, Process, Culture and Politics
Eileen K. Aranda, Luis Aranda with Kristi Conlon
Upper Saddle River, NJ
0 1349 4 5840
rganizational culture, Work design
International Journal of Manpower
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The book is divided into four parts and an Appendix. Each of the four parts contains three chapters and a conclusion section.
Part I is concerned with the various types of teams. It defines their purposes, goals and leadership roles.
Part II discusses behavior rules (“ground rules′′) for members acting as a team, the forms and vehicles of participation in team activities, and features of the decision-making process in teams.
Part III examines the creation of the components of a team culture (i.e. values and rituals) and the learning process in the team.
Finally, Part IV considers the process of problem solving, conflicting interests, pressures external to the team and team renewal.
Numerous organizational tasks have to be performed by teams (Barrick et al., 1998; Tziner, 1986; Tziner and Eden, 1985). It is thus of crucial importance to understand how factors like team composition, members′ personalities, task-related abilities and their work motivation affect the intra-team processes (e.g. communication, cohesiveness, leadership patterns, culture and norms) which in turn affect team performance. Another interesting issue is whether homogeneity or heterogeneity in members′ task-related capabilities influences their work-related attitudes and/or team productivity. In spite of the practical importance of these issues, it is surprising to discover that the scientifically derived knowledge of these factors that has accrued over the years is extremely limited.
Had the authors, Drs Eileen K. Aranda, Luis Aranda and Kristi Conlon, expanded on this issue, their book could have contributed considerably to our knowledge of teams. We are in great need of such knowledge in view of the fact that organizations constantly rely on work teams in order to accomplish their goals effectively. Instead, unfortunately, the book, based on anecdotal facts and apparently on the authors′ personal observations and accumulated consulting experience, adheres to a cook-book approach by offering a list of dos and don′ts. These recipes are not always clear. For example, on p. 33 the authors state:
Teams continually need to validate the appropriateness of their goals. This means that on a regular basis the team needs to check with its constituencies to determine whether it should continue its work and proceed in the current direction.
The natural reaction is why? On what basis have the authors reached this conclusion? Just one more example, among many others, can be found on p. 57. Again, the authors do not elaborate on the basis for their statements, so that there is no way to judge the validity of the conclusions. Similarly, they introduce typologies (e.g. pp. 43, 86), present model (e.g. pp. 54, 88), devise measures (e.g. pp. 115, 117) and questionnaires (e.g. pp. 131, 165) without elucidating the theoretical underpinnings and validation procedures or providing any evidence to justify their use. Furthermore, the authors rarely cite previous publications in the field of teams, and when they do their references are strikingly outdated.
This strips the work of a scientific orientation and makes it appear more like a how-to book. The authors are invited to review the subchapter on teams in Lowenberg and Conrad (1998, pp. 519-51) in order to get a notion of how a scientifically-based book on work teams would best be structured. In its present form, this book may most appropriately be used as an instruction manual or a source of exercises for those interested in supplementing a theoretical course on teams with experiential practice. As such it can be a valuable aid.
Barrick, M.R., Stewart, G.L., Neubert, M.J. and Mount, M.K. (1998, “Relating member ability and personality to work-team process and team performance”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 83, pp. 377-91.
Lowenberg, G. and Conrad, K.A. (1998, Current Perspectives on I/O Psychology, Allyn &; Bacon, Needham Heights, MA, pp. 519-51.
Tziner, A. (1986, “Task performance: some theoretical insights”, Small Group Behavior, Vol. 17, pp. 343-54.
Tziner, A. and Eden, D. (1985, “Effects of crew composition on crew performance: does the whole equal the sum of its parts?”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 70, pp. 85-93.