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Resistance to teamworking in a UK research and development laboratory

Thursfield, Denise


Denise Thursfield


This article presents an ethnographic exploration of resistance to teamworking in a UK research and development laboratory named RDL. It focuses on the nature of autonomy and responsibility and the implications for resistance. It finds that resistance is shaped by the laboratory technicians’ individualistic interactions with technology, the laboratory layout and the technicians’ desire for personal task-related autonomy and individual responsibility rather than team-based accountability. However, although resistance is linked to an individualistic interpretation of work it is supported by collective collusion. The article also finds that resistance is not necessarily anti-work. It is simultaneously oriented towards the interests of the company and individual technicians through the technicians’ desire to perform their job well. Finally, the article demonstrates the local and constructed nature of resistance.


Thursfield, D. (2015). Resistance to teamworking in a UK research and development laboratory. Work, employment & society : a journal of the British Sociological Association, 29(6), 989-1006.

Acceptance Date Oct 1, 2014
Online Publication Date Apr 17, 2015
Publication Date 2015-12
Deposit Date Apr 22, 2015
Publicly Available Date Apr 22, 2015
Journal Work, employment and society
Print ISSN 0950-0170
Electronic ISSN 1469-8722
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 6
Pages 989-1006
Keywords Individual autonomy; Collective collusion; Resistance to teamworking; Flexibility; Responsibility
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: Work, employment and society, 2015, v.29, issue 6.


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