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Teamwork in the Public Sector: Performativity, Commitment and Control in the Swedish Social Insurance Agency 


(Kerstin Jacobsson & Katarina Hollertz)


Teamwork is a well-known management technique for eliciting commitment and exerting control in the private service sector. There is much less research on the role of teamwork in the public sector, where objectives are typically more complex. Tying critical management and street-level bureaucracy studies, this article explores teamwork as a key component in the normative governance of the street-level bureaucrats within the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (SIA). Based on ethnographic research in five local SIA offices, the analysis identifies teams as: a) performative tools; b) ‘cushioning’ structures; and c) ‘moral corsets’ on caseworkers. It is concluded that teamwork is instrumental in achieving current management goals, while simultaneously transforming the nature of casework as we know it.

Keywords: caseworkers, normative governance, street-level bureaucracy, teamwork