Management and Leadership of Innovative Work Teams

Management and Leadership of Innovative Work Teams

Santiago Gutiérrez (Castilla-La Mancha University, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-207-5.ch016
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This chapter focuses on the analysis of two factors; the characteristics of new work teams and the management and leadership tools required for these innovative teams, in order to generate greater effectiveness. Firstly, the authors present the differences between a work team and a group and the basic characteristics of innovative work teams (multifunctional teams, self-managing teams, virtual teams and open-innovation teams). Then, the authors focus on the management systems of these teams with the aim of generating greater effectiveness. High-performance practices and management skills are presented as tools for increasing motivation and commitment to the company and its business culture. Finally, the authors analyzed the leadership and the effect of leadership has an impact on the team’s results as well as on the company’s innovativeness, making it an essential part of creating effective innovative teams.
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Companies in the modern era operate in highly volatile markets, with ever-increasing competition. In order to survive these increasingly complex environments and respond to these new situations, innovation is key (Dess and Pickens, 2000). The most advanced organizations are developing new models of organization, based on work groups, which aim to promote innovation and increase their response capacity (King and Anderson, 2002). By development these types of corporate knowledge assets modern companies are able to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Resources such as creativity, the capacity for innovation, the development of human talent, the management of teams or leadership, are increasingly used in business management because they generate an improved competitive position for those companies that best develop them and that are able to implement them successfully. (Drazin and Schoonhoven, 1996).Moreover some of them are giving to innovation a higher bonus. (Drazin and Schoonhoven, 1996).

Not only Innovation and but also its conversion processes turning creative ideas into concrete actions have been analyzed by literature (Mumford and Gustafson, 1988) including some other factors such as estrategy (Hitt et al., 1996; Parnell, Lester and Menefee, 2000; Montes, Moreno and Morales, 2005), structure (Pierce and Delbecq, 1977; Damanpour, 1998), organizational environment (Amabile and Gryskiewicz, 1989; Isaksen et al., 2001), spreading practices (Abrahamson, 1991), group interaction (Mumford et al., 2001) and individual capacities performance (Mumford et al., 1998). Most of these studies are centred in innovation at an organizational level as work groups, nets or individuals (King and Anderson, 2002) as it is a concept embracing different dimensions from exploration and generation of ideas to its further defense and application (de Jong and den Hartog, 2010).

Individuals in organizations have traditionally been grouped according to their specialty and always under a common basic function. In this traditional system, one person acts as leader and has a high level of authority over the internal working of the group and over external relations. Individuals usually remain at the same level within these groups for a significant period of time. However, the needs of the modern company, derived from increasingly complex environments, require the formation of new work teams that are more flexible and more adaptable to prevailing circumstances. These work teams have the potential to be better prepared when adapting to new circumstances than traditional ones do. Now more than ever, individuals must work together and coordinate their efforts with the other members of the team and the rest of the organization.

The creation of these new work teams is the result of certain changes in the business environment. These teams are better prepared to tackle the new challenges presented by today’s markets (Tushman and O´Reilly, 1997; de la Florida, 2002).

Table 1 shows the most significant changes affecting organizations that have led to the creation of new work teams:

Table 1.
Innovative teams and changing environments
Principal changes in the business environmentInnovative Teams
More complex environmentMultifunctional teams
Better educated and trained employeesSelf-managing teams
Advances and developments in technology and systems of communicationVirtual teams
Increased competition and lack of creativityOpen-innovation teams

Source: The author

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