Macro change drivers like global competition, information and technology innovations, and demographic shifts have required organizations to rethink their structures and processes. In particular, the flattening and downsizing of organizations has led to the empowerment of teams in an attempt to increase flexibility, adaptability, customer responsiveness, and productiveness. While transition to teams has been a widely adopted strategy, there are many examples of team failures that eventually undermine empowerment. It is argued in this article that the formation of teams requires the presence of certain external and internal conditions. The external requisites include support and direction, such as congruence with strategy, top management support, clear goals and parameters, and effective selection of employees. The internal requisites include an emphasis on preparation and training of employees through initial team building and ongoing team development, and encouragement of a continual reflective learning cycle. Without the internal processes for team learning, even an initially successful team may defeat itself and become unproductive, thereby discouraging further support for team empowerment initiatives.
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