chapter  7
22 Pages

The Meaning of Interdependence

WithRuth Wageman

There has been increasing attention to promoting interdependence in organizations recently, from self-managing front line teams, to cross-functional task forces, to process complete departments, and so on. The hope for these structures is that getting people to operate interdependently for collective outcomes will improve the quality, timeliness, and/or originality of those outcomes. The data are still out about how well interdependence can produce such outcomes. It is by no means a simple and straightforward task to create interdependence where there has been none before, as many organizations implementing total quality management (TQM) have discovered (Hackman & Wageman, 1995). Indeed, if managers draw from long experience to create well-designed individual work, they may well be better off than those organizations that attempt to create teams but end up with poorly structured interdependent work.