Job Engagement within Self-Organizing Teams: The effect of Job Control and Social Support

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The purpose of this research is to further understand the relationship between selforganizing teams and job engagement and to what extent certain characteristics of selforganizing teams have an effect on the level of job engagement. The results of this research can help organizations who work with self-organizing teams and are looking for ways to enhance job engagement. The existing literature suggested that job control (e.g. job autonomy and organizing authority) and social support would have a positive effect on job engageme nt (Humphrey et. al., 2007; Emerald Group, 2019). What lacks however is the effect of job control and social support have on job engagement within self-organizing teams, as previous research did not control for the context of teams (Mäkikangas et. al., 2016). Teams who organize themselves have different names, self-organizing/se lfmanaging/ self-steering/self-directing/autonomous (Kräkel, 2017). They can be described as a team of individuals assembled to generate synergy towards problem-solving in areas of specialized knowledge, who provide flexibility and speed. The team has the authority and the autonomy to decide about the composition of the team, to choose between projects and how to plan and realize these projects. Teamwork implies that there is social support among team members (Eklöf & Ahlborg Jr., 2016). Social support can be defined as access to help and support from team members and a willingness to listen to problems and other job-related feedback from colleagues and managers. Although the level of job control and social support is high within self-organizing teams, it can differ between self-organizing teams, for instance due to interdependencies of tasks and communication obstacles (Boss et. al., 2021 ; Eklöf & Ahlborg Jr., 2016). Therefore, these characteristics of self-organizing teams have been chosen to study the impact on job engagement within self-organizing teams. To assess if job control and social support have a significant effect on job engagement within self-organizing teams, a survey has been filled out by team members of self-organizing teams at a healthcare organization, which was then used to statistically test relationships. At first, it seemed that autonomy had a significant effect on job engagement, although it was small. But after including social support in the model, the significance of autonomy disappeared and social support had a significant effect on job engagement where an increase in social support would lead to an increase in job engagement. This effect was also small but it ended up being the only one significant as autonomy, organizing authority and the combining and interacting effect of job control (e.g. autonomy and organizing authority) and social support also did not result in significant effect, even when controlled for gender and job type. 5 This led to the conclusion that within self-organizing team, social support has a significant effect on job engagement and the level of autonomy and organizing authority does not. Organizations working with self-organizing teams who are looking to enhance job engagement should therefore not need to look at autonomy and organizing authority. They can look at social support, but the effect size of social support on job engagement was still small, bordering on medium. Recommended directions for future research include looking at the differences between self-organizing teams and the originally closely supervised teams regarding the constructs of this research, conducting research across different industries to see if the results of this research are also applicable to these contexts and lastly to look at the job demands within self-organizing teams.
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