The concept of teamworking is the product of two distinct developments. One: a neo- Tayloristic form of organization of work, of which Toyota has shown that it can be very profitable, was packaged and reframed to make it acceptable to the Western public. Two: anti-Tayloristic ways of organizing work, inspired by ideals of organizational democracy, were relabeled to make these acceptable to profit-oriented managers. Drawing on empirical research in Scandinavia, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK, as well as on published case studies of Japanese companies, the paper develops a neo-Tayloristic and an anti-Tayloristic model of teamworking. Key concerns in the teamworking literature are intensification of work and the use of shop floor autonomy as a cosmetic or manipulative device. Indeed, all the features of neo-Tayloristic teamworking are geared towards the intensification of work. However, one of the intensification mechanisms, the removal of Tayloristic rigidities in the division of labor, applies to anti-Tayloristic teamworking as well. This poses a dilemma for employee representatives. In terms of autonomy, on the other hand, the difference between neo-Tayloristic and anti-Tayloristic teamworking is real. In anti-Tayloristic teamworking, there is no supervisor inside the team. The function of spokesperson rotates. All team members can participate in decision-making. Standardization is not relentlessly pursued; management accepts some measure of worker control. There is a tendency to alleviate technical discipline, e.g. to find alternatives for the assembly line. Buffers are used. Remuneration is based on proven skill level; there are no group bonuses. In contrast, in neo-Tayloristic teamworking, a permanent supervisor is present in the team as team leader. At most, only the team leader can participate in decision-making. Standardization is relentlessly pursued. Management prerogatives are nearly unlimited. Job designers treat technical discipline, e.g. short-cycled work on the assembly line, as unproblematic. There are no buffers. A substantial part of wages consists of individual bonuses based on assessments by supervisors on how deeply workers cooperate in the system. Group bonuses are also given. The instability and vulnerability of anti-Tayloristic teamworking imply that it can only develop and flourish when managers and employee representatives put determined effort into it. The opportunity structure for this contains both economic and political elements. In mass production, the economic success of Toyota, through skillful mediation by management gurus, makes the opportunity structure for anti-Tayloristic teamworking relatively unfavorable.

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Economic and Industrial Democracy: an international journal
Department of Sociology

Pruijt, H. (2003). Teams between Neo-Taylorism and Anti-Taylorism. Economic and Industrial Democracy: an international journal, 24(1), 77–101. doi:10.1177/0143831X03241004