Technology, skills and the transformation of work : implications for the training provision for Brazilian office workers
This thesis is concerned with the process of office automation in Brazil and its skills and training outcomes. The thesis combines a theoretical analysis with an empirical study undertaken in Brazil. Following an introductory chapter, Chapter 2 discusses and analyses two existing theoretical perspectives which address the relationship between technology, work organisation and skills. These are: the labour process approach with reference to the 'deskilling thesis' developed by Harry Braverman (1974) and the 'flexible specialisation thesis' based on Michael Piore and Charles Sabel (1984). They focus on technological changes on the shopfloor, in advanced industrialised countries. Chapter 3 applies the main arguments put forward by these two • approaches to the office environment in advanced industrialised countries. Based on the discussion of a number of empirical studies concerned with the skill outcomes of new technology in the office, the chapter also develops two models of office automation: the 'technology-driven' and the 'informational' models. These models are used as a framework for the discussion of the empirical research undertaken in Brazilian offices. Chapter 4 discusses the recent economic developments in Brazil in order to provide a context for understanding the empirical findings. The chapter describes the country's process of industrialisation, the current economic context and its implications for the adoption of new technology in the Brazilian office environment. Chapter 5 focuses on the empirical research conducted in Brazilian offices and training agencies. It describes the perspectives of managers, office workers and deputy directors of training agencies with regard to technology, skills and training. The chapter then analyses these perspectives in the light of the two theoretical models of office automation developed in Chapter 3. Chapter 6 summarises the main conclusions of this thesis, and draws some implications for training policies in Brazil.