This paper examines employee views of why and how managers introduced teamworking at several sites within a steel company. Following a content analysis of employee comments we classify employee views of management motives into four main types: economic, political, institutional and cultural. Employees reported that managers were primarily driven by political rationales and implemented teamworking for reasons of self-interest. The economic rationales for management action were interpreted negatively as favouring shareholders and increasing worker insecurity. The introduction of teamworking also appeared to require a concerted attempt to enforce employee compliance, indicating that culture change was also an important factor. The views employees expressed of management intent are not adequately described by either recent advocates of high performance work systems or the critical perspective on human resource management although they appear central in understanding employee responses to management initiatives in these sites.
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