Work organisation and the restructuring of the telecommunications in British Telecom and Korea Telecom
The aim of thesis is to address the issue of convergence versus divergence in work organisation in the telecommunications industry in Britain and Korea through a comparative case study. Convergence or divergence has been debated among universalists, national institution theorists and converging divergence proponents. These approaches suffer from respectively under-socialisation, over-socialisation, and a lack of dynamic interactions between variables. By focusing on the changing processes of national telecoms governance regimes, management strategies, corporate restructuring, and work organisation, the research explores how global forces are mediated or structured by contextual variables and how variables interact. It investigates three aspects of work organisation, that is, work control, work rationalisation and customisation, and flexibility, of field technicians and customer services representatives in British Telecom and Korea Telecom. The evidence based on interviews, documentation and observations suggests that there are systematic differences in patterns of work organisation between the two cases but small similarities. Even ostensible similarities arise from different contexts and have varying significance. Systematic differences are argued to result not just from varying phases of corporate restructuring between the two cases but also more importantly from such contextual factors as national systems, telecoms governance regimes, the existing management structure, and management and union strategies. However, the relationships between intermediate variables are more interactive and dynamic than conventional institutionalism suggests. Changes in some of the intermediate variables or work reorganisation may be an important source of influence on national institutions, leading to dynamic interactions between variables. These dynamic interactions make the diversification between the two cases distinct from conventional national institution theories which see national institutions as being constant.