Organisational Structure and Self-managing Teams Effectiveness. Researched within a Holacratic organisational context -A case-study at bol.com-
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Businesses of today need to be adaptive to keep up with a constantly changing business environment. One way for businesses to keep up with this dynamic environment is to form self-managing teams, but for organisations, it can be difficult to have effective self-managing teams. According to researchers, an organisational structure is an important factor influencing the effectiveness of self-managing teams, but researchers are still arguing about how to design these organisational structures to create effective self-managing teams. This study, therefore, tries to gain a better understanding of the relationship between organisational structure and effectiveness of self-managing teams. Using a case study at a Dutch E-commerce company, this relationship is further assessed. The organisation recently changed its organisational structure to a structure which could make the self-managing teams more effective. This new organisational form of creating more effective self-managing teams at is named after ‘Spark’, which is based on the concept of Holacracy. By abductively analysing the data, it becomes apparent that the new Spark structure has improved the effectiveness of self-managing teams, but there are also some ambiguities in the design of the organisational structure. One aspect that improved the effectiveness of the self-managing teams is that the self-managing teams are supported on a part-time basis by more specialist knowledge from supportive departments. These supportive departments are the IT department, marketing department, finance and control department, etcetera. By means of extra specialist knowledge, self-managing teams were able to cover bigger parts of the primary process. This new structure of forming these self-managing teams, however, shows characteristics of a matrix structure, which is not a favourable structure according to some studies. One other aspect that positively influenced self-managing team effectiveness is that teams can gather and assess all data that they need to judge their performances. Using this data, the team were able to make better decisions. A final result was that, if the goals for the self-managing teams are set cooperatively with a higher hierarchical layer, self-managing teams are more able to set reachable but ambitious goals. There are also a few factors that were ambiguous. One factor is that the extent of autonomy is unknown for the self-managing teams. This ambiguity could lead to new forms of hierarchy in the organisation. The last aspect that needed to be considered is that the self-managing team members only perform supportive or preparing activities; they do not perform a ‘making’ activity for the primary process. This missing ‘making’ activity is not in line with the literature, but the results did not show any downfalls of this missing ‘making’ activity in the self-managing teams. Current IT-developments could explain why this ‘making’ activity is absent in the self-managing teams.
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