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Title: Shop floor practices under changing forms of managerial control : a comparative ethnographic study
Author: Sharpe, Diana Rosemary
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1998
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Recent debates, on changing forms of managerial control and work organisation, have often neglected the ways in which control systems are implemented and sustained in different contexts. The study makes a contribution, through presenting comparative case studies, of how managerial control systems are introduced and adapted within specific organisations. Through this approach it has been possible to identify similarities and differences in how control systems may be implemented and their outcomes across different contexts. The study presented focuses on specific areas that have been empirically underresearched concerning the related topics of; firstly how new forms of managerial control are implemented and the practices surrounding their introduction and maintenance or change on the shop floor. Secondly the study contributes to an understanding of shop floor processes within alternative forms of work organisation and management systems introducing empirical material to illustrate the importance of contexts and contingencies in influencing shop floor processes and outcomes. Thirdly the study contributes to the debate on the 'transferability' of work systems and management practices across multinational organisations, by examining the influence of context and contingencies on the extent to which practices are chosen to be implemented, how they are implemented and with what outcomes. A Japanese-Italian international joint venture in the car industry was chosen for the study, providing an interesting context in which to examine if, and how, parent company systems were transferred, adapted and sustained in an overseas subsidiary. Through comparative within and across case analysis of management initiatives on a greenfield and a brownfield site in the UK, it has been possible to research the influence of context and contingencies on how management systems are implemented and sustained, and their outcomes. By adopting a participant observer role on the shop floor it was possible to examine shop floor processes surrounding the introduction of new control systems, providing a rich contextual understanding of how management practices were received on the shop floor and how practices were influenced by context and contingencies. The findings illustrate how the change processes that took place across the sites were significantly influenced by the local context, the characteristics and orientations of the workers, and the socio-technical system in which the changes took place. The findings indicate that the success of organisations in transferring lean productionITQM systems into new contexts will be contingent upon features of the context in which they are introduced. Factors include the wider social, political and economic context, the nature of the local labour market and industry, the orientation of local workers and local managers, the coherence of human resource management practices and the social and technical system into which they are introduced. Contingent factors influencing outcomes will include the commitment of managers to the systems and their maintenance, and the ability of management to ensure a coherent approach, that is sustained at all levels in the organisation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available