The practice of teamwork in health industry call centres

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Employee Relations, 2012, 34 (3), pp. 288 - 305
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Purpose: This paper aims to explore the introduction of teamwork in two health call centres, NHS Direct and NHS24, and intervenes in the emergent debate over teamwork in call centres. Although within the call centre work environment there is no obvious functional rationale for teamwork, teams can be "accounted for" with reference to other purposes, including performance management, normative control, governmentality and institutional isomorphism/management fads. This research provides additional explanations for the use of teamwork in such an adverse work environment. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is based on qualitative data (interviews and non-participant observations) from NHS Direct and NHS24, the English and Scottish tele-nursing organisations in the UK. Findings: In the two tele-nursing case studies analysed, teamwork was introduced as an expression of managers' aspirations to emulate private sector practices and to reinforce new public management ideals. However, informal teamwork, which cut across organisationally prescribed forms, provided both emotional support and spontaneous knowledge sharing among nurses. Originality/value: This is an innovative study because teamwork has not been thoroughly explored in a health call centre environment. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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