Men, Management, and Mental Health

By Harry Levinson; Charlton R. Price et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II
APPROACH

A T the beginning of the previous chapter, we described an event in the field with a Midland work crew and some additional aspects of their work experience we learned about in talking with the men. Such experiences are characteristic for many people in Midland Utilities. We have sketched some of the settings in which Midland people work, how the job is organized, as well as the history and the values of the organization. How were we to abstract from data like these, ideas and hypotheses which would be helpful in developing knowledge that could be used to foster mental health in work situations?

We might have interpreted work experiences in Midland in many different ways. "It takes us guys to make them guys," the foreman of the gas transmission crew had said, speaking of management. His further comments and those of all of the others with whom we talked, together with our observations, would have enabled us to analyze the impact of organizational norms on individual motivation and behavior. Such is the focal point for several studies by Chris Argyris (1,2).

On the job with a transmission crew, we saw that the district superintendent dropped by to observe their work. In the emergency, the general superintendent appeared on the scene, as did other company officials. On another visit with the crew, we noted the foreman's mode of supervision, and he expressed his supervisory philosophy in an interview. The men had spoken of what they liked or did not like about their supervision.

Peer relationships were also discussed. "I've seen the guys so damned cold that you couldn't hardly breathe and they were just as happy as anything" the welder's helper had told us. "Everyone

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