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Improving productivity with self-organised teams and agile leadership

David W Parker (Department of Business, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Melanie Holesgrove (Department of Business, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Raghhuvar Pathak (The Graduate School of Business, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji)

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




Many organisations remain adverse to self-organised teams. The reasons are non-trivial and complex, but it is suspected that not willing to let go to direct control by senior management is at the root cause. There is a perceived security in following traditional, hierarchical chains of command under the guise of reducing risks and maintaining efficiency. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of a research agenda that will empirically test in the field a range of widely held assumptions around leadership of self-organised teams. In total, 23 companies have agreed to participate in the proposed longitudinal research.


An extensive literature review has identified extant theories, frameworks, and methodologies adopted by researchers to gain greater understanding of self-organised teams. This knowledge will be used as the basis for generating hypotheses for subsequent testing in the field.


There is a considerable knowledge base established for self-organised teams. However, there is limited understanding of the benefits or detrimental effects of self-organised teams on organisational productivity and the appropriate style of leadership. This initial research has identified several hypotheses that will be used to develop questionnaires and instruments for information collection.

Research limitations/implications

The tools and techniques presented in this article need to be adapted to the organisation’s specificities as well as to the contextual situation.

Practical implications

The work is of significant practical use. The research will be completed in a number of companies. There will be continuous input from operational and executive management. The findings from the work will be disseminated through various channels including workshops and conferences. Companies implementing and using self-organised teams will benefit from the knowledge generated.

Social implications

Self-organised teams are used in a variety of settings – commercial businesses, not-for-profit, NGOs. The work will explore issues around behavioural networks and inter- intra-team relationships.


There is much rhetoric around the adoption and uses of self-organised teams, yet there appears to be little understanding of the effect of leadership style of these teams and effect on productivity. This work will therefore contribute to the understanding of self-organised teams. While prior research has been conducted in the motivational and behavioural implications of self-organised teams, the knowledge is at best scant when leadership models for self-organised teams and operational factors are explored.



Parker, D.W., Holesgrove, M. and Pathak, R. (2015), "Improving productivity with self-organised teams and agile leadership", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 64 No. 1, pp. 112-128.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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