| HBS Case Collection
(Revised March 1997)
Business Teams at Rubbermaid, Inc.
Rubbermaid, a consumer-products company widely praised for its innovation, has instituted a company-wide experiment to stimulate innovation even further. The experiment consists of creating small cross-functional business teams within each division, with each team being responsible for the creation, management, and profitability of a particular product line. The staffing, reporting structure, and management of the business teams vary across divisions; and clear differences emerge in the performance of four highlighted teams. Specific topics include: options for staffing, structuring, and managing cross-functional business teams; the difficulty of implementing cross-functional teams in a company with a strong functional structure; the difficulty of balancing accountability and empowerment in "entrepreneurial" teams within established firms; and the impact of different management approaches on the functioning of business teams.
Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation;
Groups and Teams;
Innovation and Management;
Consumer Products Industry;