The relevance of technology in the organisation of work in a third world workplace : a case study of the Port Harcourt refinery, Nigeria
The organisation of work is seen here as concerning the ways in which various elements in work such as skills, tasks and structures of relationship are planned and managed. The technological artefact used in work is recognized as a relevant resource in the work organisation phenomenon. This is particularly so in a developing country like Nigeria where technology is looked upon as a harbinger of modernization along western lines. Hence, the study rejects the relegation of technology and the corresponding elevation of social factors to a determinist height by Gallie, Bijker and Pinch, and others. It agrees that technology is a social construct but argues that when a technological artefact becomes existent, it is capable of influencing its environment. Its construction or design would have been unnecessary if this was not the case. On the other hand, deviating from Ellul and post - industrial society theorists generally, the study argues that technological relevance does not mean its determinacy. It recognizes that it would be wrong to discount the social origins of technology as well as the import of social choice. Therefore, the study draws on the interactive model posited by Hughes, Law, Latour and others which rejects any form of determinism, whether 'social' or 'technological'. However, unlike some proponents of the model (for example, Latour) the study presumes the possibility of assessing the influence of these 'actants'. Hence, it sees a crude oil refining plant as distinctly able to turn out refined petroleum products, not textiles; and able to influence certain aspects of work organisation. Overall, the study is congruent with the interactive model in arguing that the social and the technological are in %alliance', neither being the sole determinant of the way work is organised. This remains the order of things even in *developing' Nigeria where imported technology is yearned for and revered.