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Representations of team work among organizations with a social entrepreneurship profile: A multiple case-study

Celso Alves Pais (Mestrado em GRH, High Institute Miguel Torga, Coimbra, Portugal)
Cristina Parente (Sociology Department, Faculty of Arts, University of Porto, Oporto, Portugal)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this article is to show how work-teams are represented and work in non-profit organizations. From a theoretical point of view, the concepts of macro-team and micro-team, as well as their dynamics rooted in the entrepreneurial world have been discussed.


Seven socially enterprising organizations have been studied through semi-structured individual and collective interviews with managers, technicians with and without supervisory functions and workers. Data discussed here underwent an inductive analysis based on the procedures of grounded theory.


Data analysis supported the outlining of the interviewees’ representations of their belonging to the macro-team and of the working of micro-teams. There seem to be no significant differences between the way teams work in these organizations and in profit-making organizations. However, in the organizations we have analyzed, autonomous planning of activities as a mechanism of work organization and assertiveness as a fundamental communication tool between members stand out.

Research limitations/implications

This research did not include the systematic observation of work teams in the field. As such, reliability may be somehow compromised due to the use of the individual and group interview as the single data collection technique.

Practical implications

The outline of representations that we have designed points to a set of dimensions that shows, with some reliability, how to build a sense of belonging to the macro-team among the workers of this type of organization. It also clarifies the difference between behaviors that foster effective and ineffective micro-teams. This allows action over the latter to potentiate the first and eventually eliminate the second.


Considering the scarce research about team-work in non-profit organizations, this study offers a groundbreaking reflection. Further ahead, one may establish a set of differences and similarities between effective macro and micro-teams in different economic sectors. This way, this study may contribute to more encompassing organizational theories focused on the representations about and the functioning of macro and micro-teams.



This paper was funded by the FEDER through the COMPETE – Operational Program under the supervision of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. It is part of the research project Social Entrepreneurship in Portugal: Politics, organizations and education/training (PTDC/CS-SOC/100186/2008), conducted under the responsibility of the Institute of Sociology of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Porto (Portugal) in partnership with A3S and Dinâmia/CET, between September 2013 and March 2014.

The authors thank the seven TSOs that made this analytical reflection possible.


Pais, C.A. and Parente, C. (2015), "Representations of team work among organizations with a social entrepreneurship profile: A multiple case-study", Team Performance Management, Vol. 21 No. 1/2, pp. 65-84.



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