Knowledge-Driven Work: Unexpected Lessons from Japanese and United States Work Practices

By Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld; Wen-Jeng Lin et al. | Go to book overview

4
Team-Based Work Systems

Companies in every industry are striving to create team-based work systems. 1 Few are achieving the new levels of teamwork they believe will make them more competitive. For many of these firms, the interest in teams has roots in the competitive success of many Japanese organizations, which feature high levels of teamwork in manufacturing and office operations. Team-based work systems are complex amalgams of tangible practices and intangible elements such as interpersonal interactions. Achieving the proper mix of these components pays large dividends in increased organizational effectiveness, which we believe depends in part on the creation of knowledge within the firm. By taking a closer look at the ways the organizations we visited have introduced team-based work systems, we can learn valuable lessons.

In our research, we found that it was inaccurate to place all work organization systems in these Japanese-affiliated manufacturing operations into a single category. While all eight organizations that we studied reported having teams, we found three very different types of teambased work systems. In this chapter, we will summarize earlier findings and extend them to focus on some of the intangible but essential factors that influence the cross-cultural diffusion of a team-based work system. 2 We will also highlight the importance of negotiated change in the diffusion process as well as in regular functioning of team-based work systems.

Our analysis of these three types of teams centers initially on the two waves of Japanese investment, forms of ownership (joint venture versus wholly owned subsidiary), and the type of work system in place. These factors are helpful in explaining the diversity of teams we found. How-

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Knowledge-Driven Work: Unexpected Lessons from Japanese and United States Work Practices
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board i
  • Editorial Board i
  • Japan Business and Economics Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Contents xvii
  • 1 - Details Matter 3
  • 2 - Initial Visits to Japanese Factories 18
  • 3 - Cross-Cultural Diffusion 36
  • 4 - Team-Based Work Systems 59
  • 5 - Employee Involvement and Kaizen 71
  • 6 - Constructing Employment Security 88
  • 7 - Human Resource Management and Knowledge-Driven Work Systems 109
  • 8 - Labor Relations 130
  • 9 - Implications 150
  • Notes 163
  • Index 179
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