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Industrial relations and the diffusion of teamworking – Survey evidence from the UK steel industry

Nicolas Bacon (University of Nottingham, Nottingham UK, and)
Paul Blyton (Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK )

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 1 August 2000

Abstract

This article explores the industrial relations factors associated with the adoption of teamworking and allied new working practices. A survey of trade union representatives in the UK steel industry reveals evidence that managers are less likely to introduce teamworking when they have to negotiate with trade unions. However, contrary to expectations derived from the existing literature linking teamworking with co‐operation, more conflict with unions was reported in workplaces where managers had introduced teamworking. In particular, when teamworking involved abandoning the distinction between process and maintenance work, conflict developed over health and safety and training issues. Union representatives were also more critical where managers sought teamworking for narrowly defined economic reasons, although union attitudes towards teamworking overall did not appear an important obstacle. However, formal agreements protecting workers, involving job security and redundancy provisions, did encourage cross‐functional working and teams adopting more responsibilities.

Keywords

Citation

Bacon, N. and Blyton, P. (2000), "Industrial relations and the diffusion of teamworking – Survey evidence from the UK steel industry", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 20 No. 8, pp. 911-931. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443570010332944

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited