[Excerpt] The purpose of my presentation is to consider whether the use of self-directed teams enhances competitiveness in services. In the context of heightened competition brought about by deregulation and the internationalization of service markets, do "team-based" work systems produce higher quality service and customer satisfaction? Do workers benefit as well? Should unions as well as management support this innovation? If so, under what conditions and why?
This presentation complements that of the other panelists in this session in important ways. First, while Verma provides an overview of the array of workplace innovations being introduced in telecommunications firms (from joint labor-management consultation to total quality and self-management), I focus on a more detailed quantitative assessment of use of one of those innovations—self-directed work groups. Second, I consider the ways in which the introduction of self-managed teams differentially affects the job characteristics of two of the groups identified in Herzenbergs typology of work systems in services: the semiautonomous groups (represented by customer service representatives in telecommunications) and the autonomous groups (exemplified by network field technicians).