Using a social identity approach to reconcile opposing debates on teamwork : an examination of manufacturing and software development teams

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2005
Thesis identifier
  • T11412
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • Existing theories and conceptualisations of teamwork fall into two broad categories. Firstly, the psychological or managerialist accounts which view teamwork as the answer to all organisational ills, by enhancing productivity, flexibility and efficiency, as well as improving employee satisfaction, motivation and commitment to the organisation. Secondly, there are the sociologically influenced accounts, usually provided by more ‘critical’ writers who view teamworking at best as the latest in a succession of management fads and, at worst, a covert mechanism by which management intensify their control over employees. It would, however, be naïve to accept either of these extreme accounts as the necessarily true version of events. Hence, it is the central aim of this thesis to reconcile these competing perspectives by using a framework which provides sufficient flexibility and openness to house a wealth of theoretical positions. An adapted version of what is called the social identity approach is adopted for this purpose, as this body of work allows both the acknowledgment of context and scepticism present in more critical accounts and the methodological and theoretical rigour associated with psychological work. Empirical support for this approach is provided by the detailed examination of fourteen teams. Ten teams working for two manufacturing organisations. Four teams working for two technology companies. A combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques is adopted in order to gain a rounded understanding of the experiences for the teams and the context in which teamwork and identity are enacted. The findings from this empirical work show that the extent and form in which employees identify with the team can explain whether teamwork is a positive experience for employees or a mechanism for controlling behaviour by management.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Scholarios, Dora
  • Thompson, Paul.
Resource Type