Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Pilar Pazos

Committee Member

Rafael Landaeta

Committee Member

Holly Handley

Committee Member

Vukica Jovanovic


An environment of ever increasing competition drives manufacturing organizations to continually search for ways to improve the performance of their production operations. Lean manufacturing, born out of the Toyota Production System (TPS), has become the dominant improvement method sought to meet this need. Although well established in high-volume production settings, the application of lean production methods in low-volume and high-complexity (LVHC) manufacturing contexts has not been as successful. A commonly cited reason is a biased focus on the technical aspects of implementing lean methods with little regard for the social system involved in the change. In the LVHC manufacturing context, the support required to make lean manufacturing methods successful resides in production work teams.

Prior research has demonstrated that high performance teams use self-regulating teamwork behaviors (SRTB) to prepare for work accomplishment, collaborate on taskwork, assess their performance, and make adjustments to meet their goals. The impact of SRTB on team performance is expected to be greater when the work cycle is longer, task complexity is higher, and people not technology control the pace of work. With those being primary features of the LVHC context, unique opportunities for enacting SRTB are present but how those behaviors can be accomplished in this context is not fully understood.

Our knowledge of how production operations can be improved through the sociotechnical system of work teams can be significantly enhanced by conducting naturalistic empirical research under real-world conditions. The multiple case study method was used for this research in a LVHC manufacturing plant to explore how team composition, team context, and organizational context influence the generation and development of SRTB in production work teams. From this research, the major factors and relationships that drive SRTB in this setting were identified and mapped, resulting in the formulation of propositions and a theoretical framework. Although especially relevant to LVHC manufacturers, this research also makes a theoretical and practical contribution to the discipline of engineering management by identifying critical factors and relationships in team composition and context for accomplishing SRTB.