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Departmentation: How to Group and Organize Jobs in the Team

Generalist or Specialist teams?

· team

Concept: the grouping of jobs and/or activities

  • E.g, will team members be organized by function, geography, product, customer segment?
  • What is the common chart of your team?
  • Will it be modules/groups of specialist people of generalist people?

Specialist vs. generalist structures

  • Specialist structures work best in predictable, routine task environment because of added efficiency.
  • Generalist structures work best in dynamic task environments because of added flexibility.

Source:Hollenbeck et al., Journal of Applied Psychology, 2002

 

Be careful: switching is not simple
In a sample of 63 4-person teams working on a military simulation:
Teams that shifted from a specialist to a generalist structure performed 6% better than teams that shifted from a generalist to a specialist structure.

Why?
Teams that start out in a specialist structure develop norms for coordination and cooperation because they must depend on each other to get their jobs done. Those norms carry forward and make the generalist structure more effective.

Source: Moon et al., Academy of Management Journal, 2004

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