Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Advocates of self-managed teams, a common strategy for organizing work, suggest that teams may be a solution to gender inequality in the workplace. According to this argument, the nonteam-structured workplace is typically stratified by gender with women occupying the lower stratum of the hierarchy. Women's formal and informal interactions are therefore limited to mostly other women in similar low-status positions. This gendered pattern of interaction is said to negatively affect women's career opportunities and outcomes because women's positions prevent them from accessing and mobilizing good social capital - benefits from ties to influential persons within the organization. Self-managing teams that cross-cut workplace positions and subunits provide access to good social capital, thus enhancing women's work outcomes. I tested this argument with data from a case study of employees in the asset management subdivision of a multinational insurance and asset management company dubbed Finco Asset Management. In general, the results confirm the benefits of participation in self-managing teams. First, in Chapter 3 I found that workgroups, the nonteam structure at Finco, were more likely to be segregated by gender than self-managing project teams. In Chapter 4, I found that workplace position, workgroup and the perceived importance of another for one's career advancement determined the informal structure at Finco. Tie importance attenuated the effect of joint project team participation, which suggests that employees were strategic about forming ties with influential persons in project teams. In Chapter 5, I found that the informal structure, particularly indegree centrality and outdegree centrality, were key predictors of promotion and pay increase. Indegree centrality alone determined layoffs, however. Thus consistent with the social capital argument, self-managing project teams reduced gender segregation, provided access to important informal networks and the informal networks influenced employee work outcomes. However, gender mattered as well. Women were more likely to share workgroups and less likely to be in upper management. Women were also less likely to have same-sex informal networks within their subdivision after accounting for tie importance; however, they were more likely to have same-sex ties in other subdivisions. Women also reported lower job commitment and saw fewer opportunities for mobility at Finco in comparison to men. Hence, while participation in cross-cutting, self-managing teams does improve women's work outcomes, gender differences persist in positions and attitudes.
Copyright 2012 Vernon Anthony Woodley
Woodley, Vernon Anthony. "Gender and networks in project teams: the case of a troubled insurance and asset management company." dissertation, University of Iowa, 2012.