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THE CHANGING STRUCTURE OF WORK. Dominant paradigm for how to structure work in much of 20 th century was scientific management (also referred to as Taylorism).

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The changing structure of work
THE CHANGING STRUCTURE OF WORK

  • Dominant paradigm for how to structure work in much of 20th century was scientific management (also referred to as Taylorism).

  • Developed by Frederick Taylor and others, sought to maximize efficiency through carefully studying work tasks and scientifically determining ‘one best way’ of completing task.

  • As managers determine each job’s one best way, Taylorism creates divide between management and labor:

    • Management determines job content, optimal job processes, and does planning.

    • Labor is resource to implement management’s directions.


The changing structure of work1
THE CHANGING STRUCTURE OF WORK

  • Bureaucratic control of scientific management well-suited to mass production of standardized goods and services in stable economy.

  • Unstable economic markets in 1970s challenged dominance of mass manufacturing methods—companies could no longer sell large quantities of identical products, unable to react quickly to changing customer demands.

  • In addition, repetitive job tasks can cause boredom, alienation, and mental and physical fatigue which in turn cause absenteeism, turnover, shirking, and low quality output.

  • Both macroeconomic shocks and micro-level issues with employee satisfaction caused competitive crisis in U.S. business in 1970s, launched efforts at changing forms of work organization, HR practices, and business strategies.


New business models
NEW BUSINESS MODELS

  • Continuous process improvement: Japanese management style (kaizen) focusing on creating corporate culture of constant change and incremental improvements.

    • Total quality management (TQM) is example of continuous process improvement strategy.

  • Reengineering: reforming business processes, generating large one-time improvements.

    • Replacing narrowly focused tasks performed by individuals with generalists and teams that add value for the organization.

  • Workplace flexibility is critical in these new models.



  • Job control unionism
    JOB CONTROL UNIONISM

    • Starts with two management principles for first three-quarters of the 20th century:

      • Narrow, standardized jobs (recall scientific management).

      • Insistence on maintaining sole authority over traditional management functions such as hiring, firing, assigning work, determining job content, and deciding what to produce and how and where to make it.

  • Add in pragmatic union philosophy of business unionism focused on wages and working conditions.

  • What pattern of unionized practices and policies is likely to result?


  • Job control unionism1
    JOB CONTROL UNIONISM

    • Resulting pattern of traditional unionized practices and policies in postwar period is called job control unionism.

    • Designed to provide industrial justice by protecting workers against managerial abuse by controlling rewards and allocation of jobs.

    • Replaces managerial subjectivity and favoritism with objective measure of seniority as primary method for determining layoffs, promotions, and transfers.

    • Subjectivity also removed from wage outcomes by closely linking wage rates to job classifications, not individuals.

    • Detailed work rules further control how work is performed and allocated.


    Job control unionism2
    JOB CONTROL UNIONISM

    • In mass manufacturing world, job control unionism serves both labor’s and management’s needs.

      • Supported mass-manufacturing requirements for stable and predictable production.

      • Fulfilled union leaders’ needs for countering managerial authority without having to resort to wildcat strikes which could undermine their own leadership positions.

      • Efficiency and equity were served through peaceful, quasi-legal application of workplace rules and contracts that fulfilled industrial justice; voice was provided through collective bargaining.

  • But the bureaucratic model of job control unionism under fire in 21st century business model emphasizing flexibility.



  • Employee involvement
    EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT

    • Scientific management treats workers as cogs in machine.

      • But workers perform their job tasks over and over and therefore often have good ideas for improving productivity, increasing quality, and lowering costs.

      • Moreover, giving employees discretion in their work can increase job satisfaction and create better employees.

  • Thus, some new business models champion not only workplace flexibility, but also employee involvement in decision-making.


  • Employee involvement1
    EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT

    • Approaches to employee involvement include:

      • Quality of working life programs (QWL)

      • Quality Circles

      • Joint labor-management committees

      • Labor representation on corporation’s board of directors.

  • The most extensive efforts to restructure workplace involve not only increasing employee involvement in the decision-making, but also changing how work is organized.

    • High performance work systems of mutually-supporting HR practices that combine flexibility with employee involvement in decision-making.


  • Alternatives to scientific management
    ALTERNATIVES TO SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT

    • Lean Production—Production by work teams with emphasis on quality through off-line quality circles rather than on-line worker decision-making. Just-in-time inventories and focus on smooth flow of materials.

      • Competitive advantage: price and mass scale quality.

    • Sociotechnical Systems—Formal, autonomous work teams have responsibilities for functional as well as routine maintenance tasks plus continuous improvement.

      • Competitive advantage: quality and customization.

    • Flexible Specialization—Small-scale production of diverse items using flexible networks of employers.

      • Competitive advantage: innovation.

    • Diversified Quality Production—Qualitythrough broadly-skilled, highly-trained crafts workers.

      • Competitive advantage: quality and customization.


    Debates over high performance work systems
    DEBATES OVER HIGH PERFORMANCE WORK SYSTEMS

    • Lean production

      • Method for continuous quality improvement . . . or management by stress and disguised old-fashioned speed-up?

  • Self-directed work teams

    • Unions as valuable business partners . . . or as shirking their primary role of advocacy for employees’ interests?

  • Do slimmer union contracts promote flexibility and increased employee discretion . . .

    • or provide opportunities for managerial manipulation in the absence of well-defined standards?


  • Employee representation are unions required
    EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATION:ARE UNIONS REQUIRED?

    • Nonunion employee representation plans involve group of employees meeting with management to discuss employment conditions and to provide employee voice.

      • Note: established by management, management determines structure, management defines issues covered

      • But some plans able to influence management decision-making and employees’ terms and conditions of employment.

  • Significant number of nonunion employee representation plans were part of welfare capitalism package of HR practices designed to create motivated, loyal, and efficient workforce.


  • The electromation controversy
    THE ELECTROMATION CONTROVERSY

    • But other plans were manipulated by management with primary purpose of preventing employees from forming independent labor unions.

    • As such, the NLRA’s section 8(a)(2) prohibits employer domination of labor organizations.

      • “… any organization of any kind … or Ee representation committee or plan … in which Ees participate and which exists, in whole or in part, for dealing with Ers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work.”

      • Unilateral mechanisms such as suggestion boxes by which individual Ees make proposals are not at issue

      • Committees acting with authority delegated by management do not “deal with” management


    False employee empowerment
    False Employee Empowerment

    • As illustrated by Dilbert


    The electromation controversy1
    THE ELECTROMATION CONTROVERSY

    • U.S. business now argues that section 8(a)(2) prevents legitimate efforts to increase competitiveness and quality through employee involvement.

    • 1992 NLRB ruling has received great attention.

      • In Electromation, several committees ruled to be illegal company-dominated labor organizations even though established for legitimate business reasons (not union avoidance).


    The electromation controversy2
    THE ELECTROMATION CONTROVERSY

    • Polaroid, 329 NLRB No. 47 (1999)

      • Decided (3-1) that Employee-Owners Influence Council was a labor organization dominated by Er

        • Co. selected the 30 members, chose topics for input

          • Family/medical leave, termination policy, medical benefits, ESOP

          • Co. made presentation, Council discussed w/presenter, then were polled to determine majority sentiment; Co. would later announce decision

        • Co. argued that Council’s activities limited to brainstorming and information sharing, expressing individuals’ views

        • Found that Council functioned as bilateral mechanism – in effect group proposals were made, responded to

        • Dissent held that if Council served Er’s purpose of obtaining ideas upon which to make mngt decision, was not a labor org; was not presented to Ees as surrogate for U.; did not interfere w/Ees’ sec.7 rights to organize


    The teamwork for employees and managers team act
    THE TEAMWORK FOR EMPLOYEES AND MANAGERS (TEAM) ACT

    • Vetoed by President Clinton in 1996


    Three unionized change strategies
    THREE UNIONIZED CHANGE STRATEGIES

    • Escape

      • Escaping from company’s bargaining obligation by relocating operations to nonunion site, subcontracting, or decertifying union.

  • Force

    • Pressuring union and employees to accept changes like wage and work rule concessions through hard bargaining.

  • Foster

    • Developing new labor-management partnership based on recognition of both labor and management goals and opportunities for mutual gain. (e.g., IAM’s High Performance Work Organization course)


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