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Stability in systems of work : the management of motivation, performance, risk and trust

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Reed, Kenneth 1995 , 'Stability in systems of work : the management of motivation, performance, risk and trust', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the issue of the achievement of stability and order in work, given the conditions characterising modern, complex production systems. Four sources of instability are discussed: economic conditions; the employment relationship; managerial decision-making; and work motivations. The thesis draws the implication that the conditions that frame the organisation of work are the result of complex interactions between structures and processes at several analytically distinct levels, ranging from the meaning work has for people to the economic structure of the capitalist mode of production. In response to this, 'work' is conceptualised as a system of action connecting the microsocial structures and processes of individuals' lifeworlds to the global structures of the modern world economy.
The institutionalisation of the practices by which order and stability are achieved can be seen as the outcome of the capacity of the system of production to respond to uncertainty. The thesis identifies two levels at which such responses can be analysed: the integration of elements in a system of production; and the relationship between the system and the activities of actors. These two levels are developed from Lockwood's (1964) distinction between system integration and social integration. The thesis argues that generic forms of organising work are the outcome of institutionalised responses to system and social integration problems.
The problem of 'social integration' focuses on the relationship of workers to the system of production. It links motivation to production in a context of increasingly diverse motivations and differentiating sites of production. Social integration is achieved largely through the channelling of individual motives into institutionalised orientations to work: and through four key structural features of work settings: work roles; routines and procedures; social groups; and the workflow.
'System integration' refers to the degree of stability and order, given continuous change at the level of the mode of production (exemplified by technological innovation, organisational differentiation, commodification and the globalisation of production). The thesis proposes that changes at the system level generate new conditions to which organisations are forced to adjust and it is through these adjustments that system
integration can be achieved. Two general types of adjustment, centring on the management of uncertainty, are proposed: the way firms organise themselves to respond to external conditions (through the use of information to manage risk); and the co-ordination and control of the intra-organisational division of labour (through the reproduction of trust).
The thesis concludes with a review of the implications of the theory and empirical findings for future research; an assessment of future possibilities for the organisation of work; and implications for improving the principles of job design.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Reed, Kenneth
Keywords: Work, Industrial relations, Decision making, Work, Work environment
Copyright Holders: The Author
Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1996. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 240-250)

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