Research paper 11
Thisessay is a critique of Maire Kerrin and Oliver Nick’s article,Collective and Individual improvement activities: The role of rewardsystems. The study seeks to establish the various mechanisms that canbe employed to increase the contribution of employees in problemsolving activities, in organizations in a bid to increase the overalloutput. From the background information, the writers identify variousmethods, such as, continuous improvement programmes that mainly useproblem solving teams. The article, however, seeks to find out howefforts within organizations should be rewarded. As such, the articlefocuses on a UK based automotive component company to examine howproblem-solving teams can be used to increase an organization’sefficiency, as well as, the implications for human resource policyand the reward recognition systems. The hypothesis that comes outclearly in this article is that teams in organizations can supportproblem solving by emphasizing accountability in the productionprocess within a particular work unit, hence increasing the magnitudeof responsibility to employees in solving the organization’sproblems(Kerrin & Nick, 2002).
Thewriters have used various studies from other scholars regarding thesame issue. Most of the sources or reviewed literature entailjournals that were published within the last decade. A clear balanceof the previous knowledge on the issue and the current problem underinvestigation is evident in the essay. As established, the authorsbase their hypothesis from past studies that they have analyzed toguide them in the current study. This has seen them focus onanalyzing recent research done in team based reward mechanisms inorganizations and more so within the manufacturing sector. This hasmostly focused on the relationship betweeen team working rewardsystems and performance. The reviewed literature has in this casefocused on underscoring that teamwork is not a unitary phenomenon. Assuch, the various structural features of team work have beenpresented, which include: the hierarchical distinct team leaders, thedefined fixed membership of the groups and a physical locationcentered around a given production line (Kerrin& Nick, 2002).
Thereviewed literature further seeks to underscore that teamwork doesnot just primarily refer to these structural characteristics, butalso to behavior. As such, teamwork as a behavior includes activitiesthat involve the sharing of information on present problems and thecooperation involved in solving them. In this line, the authors inthis review have underscored the individual, as well as, team basedproblem solving mechanisms with a focus on continued improvement ofactivities that relate to the role of reward systems in enhancingproblem solving within organizations (Kerrin& Nick, 2002).
Inanalyzing the various reward systems that go hand in hand withteamwork in efficient problem solving within organizations, theauthors classify the reward systems in various categories that rangefrom paying the performance of individuals,compensating them, to thetraditional reward systems that are dominated by base payments anddetermined by specific jobs in a bid to maintain equity amongemployees. The authors clearly bring out how the structure andallocation of rewards may go into affecting the motivation ofindividual team members (Kerrin& Nick, 2002).
ResearchAims and Objectives
Theauthors’ aims and objectives in this article are to highlight howthe inclusion of rewards in problem solving is central to group workeffectiveness. The authors are, in this line, cognizant of the factthat rewards have an impact in the effectiveness of groups though.However, the authors agree that the impact of rewards in theeffectiveness of groups is in a way unclear with the models given,which offers little guidance with regard to the specific, type of,rewards that are able to maximize particular outcomes inorganizations. The authors in this research have focused on researchconducted in laboratories under artificial circumstances with only afraction of the studies examining groups in their natural settings.However, despite these concerns, organizations have been seen tocontinue relying on the practice of team based incentives. Thearticle highlights the differing views on how team pays should beconducted, with many researchers suggesting that the application ofindividual based reward systems does not necessarily mean thatorganizations cannot employ team based approaches. As such, theauthors note that team based rewards may lead into the coming in ofcompetition between teams by making them to only focus on their ownperformance which may be at the expense of other teams performance.This may in the process become problematic, more so when the teamswork is highly integrated with that of other teams (Kerrin& Nick, 2002).
Thisarticle is drawn from a case involving an automotive component in theUK. Thecurrent study uses experimental research design. The study employedquantitative study approach. Quantitativeresearch method mainly seeks to calculate data and generalize resultsobtained from a sample representing the population underinvestigation (Lucas, Baird, Arai, Law, & Roberts, 2007).Data collection method determines the result of the study. The choiceof data collection method is also dependent on the type of study.Data was collected using anonymous variable questionnaires.Questionnaires were provided directly by the researcher to theparticipant. The questionnaires were structured with mostlyqualitative questions guiding the respondent to tick the appropriateanswer. Qualitative study is important in understanding humanbehavior (Bryman, 2006).
Interms of data analysis, quantitative data was analysed quantitativelywhile qualitative data was analysed qualitatively. Quantitative datacollected was analysed statistically using the SPSS statisticalpackage for business research. The reason both qualitative andqualitative data analysis techniques were utilized is because the twomethods complement each other hence, yielding the best results fromdata collected. Additionally, a statisitcal program was used tofacilitate data presentation and enhance a better understanding ofthe research findings by the decision makers. Both parametric anddescriptive statistics were employed in data analysis process(Belk, 2006).Thereason parametric statistics were utilized is to establish theparameters of the data/population under study and eliminate chancesof overcrowding, whereby, only the relevant data is taken intoconsideration. Additionally, the answers given by the respondents whoanswered the questionnaires were assessed and further grouped intotwo major categories namely positive response and negative responsesfrom the respondents. Such grouping was important because it enabledthe researcher to determine the number of respondents who gave therequired response and those who did not(Connaway & Powell, 2010).
Inrelation to the above, the responses obtained from the respondentswere further analysed using qualitative techniques such as inductiveanalysis methods. This is because the inductive technique allows fora thorough scrutiny and interpretation of data. This further helps toascertain that the outcome of the analysis was not only influenced bythe data and theoretical consideration but rather by actual state ofevents on the ground. Additionnaly, the responses obtained werethoroughly reviewed to eliminate any chances of errors. Thepopulation demographics were also taken into account. The dataresponses were further coded using a stastical software for socialscience and business analysis (Panneerselvam,2004).
Theauthors in this article have among others, employed the use ofcontinuous integration rewards approaches in problem solving withinorganizations. In this line, the authors have underscored problemsolving in organizations from the perspective of various researchers.Some researchers argue that daily problem solving is a part of thejob and should, therefore, be carried out without further reward. Thereason behind their argument is that when extra rewards for problemsolving are given, companies are faced with choices pertaining tothe, type of, reward, whether financial or non financial, the size ofthe reward and even its frequency. The authors, therefore, underscorethat the existence of plain identifiable recognition and rewardsystems are of paramount importance when it comes to developing, aswell as, supporting continuous integration of activities (Kerrin& Nick, 2002).
Ina bid to find solutions towards these challenges, the authors havelaid emphasis on two problem-solving methods, which are individualbased and quality team based method. In their categorization, theauthors note that the schemes are based on the individual’sfinancial rewards. This is further based on the principle that theentire course of action is a learning experience in itself. In thearticle, the authors have underscored a variety of challenges thatare associated with the whole process, with some being the extent towhich the rewards are effective when it comes to encouraging theemployees to give their ideas, and participation in the overallimprovement process. The issue of whether rewards should be awardedto individuals or teams also arises with companies differing, in thekind of, rewards to be given. In this line the authors point outthat, financial rewards that are in proportion to the values ofsuggestion are in many cases not always effective. As such, theauthors suggest that most recognition systems succeed whenorganizations reward the employee’s behavior rather than asuggestion. This is also made effective when a token of reward isgiven for every idea, regardless of how simple the idea is or evenwhether the idea sees the light of dawn(Kerrin & Nick, 2002).
Incollective activities (quality circles), rewards may end up going tothe entire group which then decides how best to use the prize. Inthis line, prizes to certain individuals may end up working againstthe team spirit of quality circles services. As such, whenever acompany identifies an inspired individual suggestion, the pertinentquality circles may feel aggrieved since they receive nothing,regardless of having working out in similar problems. In view ofthis, the article examines the issues of concern that arise whenpersons, as well as, team based problem solving activities areintroduced in an organization that employs traditional reward systems(Hackman, 2002).
Findingsfrom the various rewards mechanisms employed indicate that specificproblem solving activities are required within the formal setting,such as, improvement workshops within production teams on a dailybasis. The researchers laid emphasis on developing team based problemsolving and hence shifting from the traditional approach thatentailed specialist problem solving from professionals, such as,engineers (Hackman, 2002).
Findingsfrom this reward mechanism showed that financial gains did encourageoperators to bring forth ideas which would have been hesitant were itdone under normal circumstances. As such, the individual problemsolving method costs the organization more money than it gains fromthe scheme. This is because of ideas that are paid for but were notfully implemented or even payouts that are usually attached topermanent change.
Findingsin this area show conflicts between the team based activities thatwere not rewarded financially, and those in the individual schemethat were not financially rewarded (Hackman, 2002).
Papercritique and limitations
Employingof the some measures, such as, total quality control as highlightedin the article as a problem solving activity has a significant impacton human resource policy. As such, the evidence presented in thearticle shows that several challenges exist when it comes to thereward and recognition policies in team based problem solvingmechanisms. As results from the research in the article show, workersin the U.K, avoid those organizations that do not pay for qualitycontrol and continuous integration activities, as they view suchactivities as additional forms of duty. The same case was seen in anarticle where employees held on to ideas for their own individualgain or even to trade them when needed. It is, therefore, ofparamount importance that whenever organizations replace individualswith groups to act as the primary units in problem solving, teamrewards should be embraced to support their continued existence. Therationale behind this is to promote cooperation when it comes toproblem solving (Hackman, 2002).
Itis, however, worth noting that an analysis of this company revealsthat the chance of real cooperation is little if the employees useideas as a trade commodity. As such, the developing of a cooperativebehavior, as well as, pooling of information will not thrive whenevercontradictory recognition and reward policies are used. As such, inorder to attain highest results in the problem solving activities inan organization, managers should rely on mechanisms that are basedwithin improvement workshop or quality circles, whereby, ideas arelaid down and discussed without any threat of individuals financiallybenefiting from them (Hackman, 2002). As the research in the articlereveals, a non financial team based problem solving mechanism isbound to suffer to some extent if parallel systems exist that rewardindividuals with a large amount of money for ideas. In order tocounter this, the organization under study here adopted teams withoutputting into consideration the contradictory nature of the existinghuman resource systems, among them reward and recognition systems.The challenge was, however, on how to address such factors to makesure that a “market” for developmental ideas is wiped out(Hackman, 2002).
Thediscussion and conclusion are usually the last part of a research. Inthis area, the authors give a summary of the findings of theirstudies and compare them with other studies. In this article, theauthors have linked their findings with the achievements of otherscholars. As established in the background of the study, the currentstudy findings conform to the previous work. The authors further showhow the current study will aid in future studies.The importance ofthis study in guiding further investigation intothe role of reward systems in collective and individual improvementactivities is also underscored. Findings from the article show thatcompanies are in many cases restricted to maintain the systems thathave been used traditionally and hence find it tricky to move fromone mechanism to another. As such, the article calls for theselection of the most appropriate system in their specific situationswhich give provisions for increased participation of all employees.In consideration of the above, the company under study in thisarticle is a manufacturing company findings show that problems arebound to arise if both the manufacturing processes and continuousintegration activities are built around the teams’ concept, thoughthe rewards that come with continuous integration activities remainlargely based on individual rewards (Hackman, 2002).
Oneof the key concerns for this research is to understand how multiplereward practices can be employed simultaneously to promote teamworkamong the employees, with some researchers believing a combination ofboth group and individual reward mechanisms may achieve the desiredresults. In this article, however, multiple reward practices were noteffective with the traditional individual reward system when theywere compared to team based problem solving. Thereis a need, however, for further investigation intotherole of reward systems in collective and individual improvementactivities and how the overall reward system can be improved to gainmaximum benefits. This is because the article calls for furtherresearch and analysis of the contradictory effects of the currenthuman resource practices in the introduction of team based problemssolving (Hackman, 2002).
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