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Expectations of Team Work

In the last third of the last century, team work was the carrier of hope: it was associated with emancipated ideas of freedom or at least the reduction of hierarchies; it was interlinked with the farewell to ‘alienating’ working conditions (person to person instead of with machine) and it was a promise of being able to develop within work teams, to be creative and socially sheltered. These hopes were, to a large degree, unfulfilled, along with the idea that teamwork is fundamentally creative, innovative and rich in synergy. That one can be stupid together (F. Simon) has, meanwhilst, been discovered. Also, that phenomena such as bullying, negative competition, trench warfare and intrigues can destroy motivation just as much as incompetent bosses could and can do.

The songs of praise about teamwork have passed. The disillusionment does rather assist the whole, because it clarifies the view regarding conditions under which certain task settings and procedures can provide more benefit to the organisation, as well as to the customers, than would be possible with working side by side. One, not unimportant circumstance here is that the members of a team must not be filled with too high expectations of understanding, feeling at home, euphoria, desires for appreciation, family substitution and harmony. Otherwise disappointment is pre-programmed.