An intelligent lone wolf’s endorsement on TEAMWORK via dialectical thinking 通過辯證思維,一個聰明的獨行俠 對團隊合作的支持

An intelligent lone wolf’s endorsement on TEAMWORK via dialectical thinking

通過辯證思維,一個聰明的獨行俠 對團隊合作的支持

For a part-time lecturer with a self-image of a lone wolf, it is quite a tranquil and isolated life to me recently. The only minor issue: I have been thinking hard of how to reduce usage of toilet paper in a convenient way. Thus, when the university asked me to write an article on teamwork, I came up with this article title: “An intelligent lone wolf’s endorsement on teamwork”. Conducting this intellectual exercise inevitably invokes my dialectical thinking. This thinking follows three stages: Thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

To begin with, teamwork is generally considered as the commitment of a group of people (i.e., a team) to work together in order to achieve a common challenging team purpose. Teamwork is not required in a group, which is simply a collection of people who interact with each other such that one person’s actions have an impact on the others.

With regards to the management field, I understand why managers are interested in teamwork as a management technology: Organizations comprise groups and teams, which managers need to manage well. Besides, there are business trends that foster managerial interest in teamwork, e.g.

  1. need for organizational restructuring to cope with increased competition,
  2. need for better talent utilization, and
  3. need for more flexibility and responsiveness to come up with changes of all kinds, etc.

This kind of favourable view constitutes the thesis position of dialectical thinking on teamwork.

For a self-proclaimed intelligent lone wolf, I also hold a negative view on teamwork. Such antithesis view is based on the following ideas:

  • Idea 1: I am not a sociable person, and have a low level of affiliation needs.
  • Idea 2: As an intellectual with critical thinking, I suspect that teamwork is being used as a coercive tool to force people to comply with illegitimate aims.
  • Idea 3: I am highly concerned that, more often than not, some team members are pig-like (a Cantonese English for stupid people).
  • Idea 4: Teamwork hampers my personal life experience of liberation as a lone wolf.
  • Idea 5: Teamwork is not much required for certain professions, e.g. golf players. Again, as an academic, I do not write academic papers with other people as co-authors.
  • Idea 6: Teamwork, by stressing common purpose, very often promotes a functionalist (thus conservative) sociological view, while, an intelligent lone wolf is fully aware of a more pluralist and coercive view on society.

In the setting of education, the conflict between the thesis and antithesis positions is often at work: Universities set group assignments so that students are able to gain useful teamwork experience (which many students do). At the same time, some students do not enjoy group assignments and have bad experience to work with uncommitted teammates.

Using dialectical thinking, I now try to offer a way to synthesize the thesis and antithesis views on teamwork. The synthesis view is based on two ideas:

  • Idea 1: The contingency idea: Whether teamwork is effective or not depends on the application situation. The three main application situational factors are:
    想法1:權變管理想法:團隊合作有效與否取決於應用情況。三種主要應用情況的因素有:i) context (adequate resources, leadership and structure, climate of trust, performance evaluation),
    景況(足夠的資源、領導力和結構、信任的氛圍、效能評估),ii) composition (abilities of members, personality, allocating roles, diversity, team size,
    member flexibility and preferences) and
    組成(各成員的能力、個性、崗位分配、多樣性、團隊規模、成員靈活性和偏好)和iii) process (common purpose, specific goals, team efficacy, conflict levels, and social loafing. If these factors are unfavourable to teamwork effectiveness, then teamwork is an unattractive organizational practice.
  • Idea 2: The critical idea: the perceived application situation (re: idea 1) is itself a social construct. Thus it is important to maintain high critical awareness in the social construction of such teamwork application situations.

The synthesis view, in this respect, represents this intelligent lone wolf’s endorsement of teamwork. More importantly, it makes clear that an intelligent lone wolf can be a valuable teammate, especially in his/her analytical contribution, on team performance when the team environment is right.


Author’s Profile 作者簡介
Dr. Joseph Ho
is currently a lecturer at University of Sunderland in Hong Kong. He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Industrial Engineering, Hong Kong University and a MA Management Systems from the University of Hull, U.K. He has ongoing research interests and publications in the areas of Systems Thinking in Management, Management Accounting, Business Management, Research Methods, and Management Learning. Also, he has over 12 years’ of industry experience in the Information Systems, Accounting and Logistics functions.


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