1999 Janz Abstract

Self-directed work teams (SDWTs) often result from reengineering and process innovation efforts as well as recent movements to 'downsize', or 'flatten' organizations. Information systems (IS) departments have not been insulated from these trends. In spite of the rising interest in these teams, little is known about them in knowledge work settings like IS. Past research in blue-collar contexts suggests that teams result in performance improvements, while anecdotal evidence in the IS industry suggests that such improvements may never materialize. This paper reports on research conducted on 231 IS professionals from 28 systems development SDWTs across 13 organizations. Results indicate that while the autonomy inherent in SDWTs may lead to increased levels of satisfaction, motivation, and performance, the level of cooperative learning that takes place on the teams may be more important to achieving improved work outcomes. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for both theory and managerial practice.