Work Design for the Competent Organization

Work Design for the Competent Organization

Work Design for the Competent Organization

Work Design for the Competent Organization

Synopsis

Combining a European and American perspective, this book presents a conceptual model and practical guide for how to address the challenge of developing employee skill and competence in today's global competitive environment. Based on the premise that work activity itself can be an important source of learning and skill formation, the authors offer step-by-step guidance for how to initiate a participatory change process aimed at improving both workforce quality as well as the quality of worklife. The design principles are illustrated with case studies and complemented by a variety of practical tools. Locating currently emerging work design concepts in a historical perspective and in the macro economic and industrial relations' context, this volume expands the usual "micro" focus of work redesign efforts.

Excerpt

Work Design for the Competent Organization is an important contribution to our understanding of high performance organizations, which in turn have become necessary for those societies and organizations that wish to improve the material and non-material welfare of their participants. It should be very clear to careful analysts everywhere that the traditional governance processes in the developed countries, especially the Unites States, are grossly inadequate in a more competitive, internationalized, knowledge-intensive world. Those mechanisms were designed mainly for mass production systems in countries that had substantial control of their national economies. In these conditions, enterprises and governments emphasized price stability and economies of scale through mass production processes with bifurcated work forces: elite managerial, technical, and professionals who needed thinking skills, and most workers who performed routine tasks requiring little skill. Because of economies of scale and supporting policies, especially the social safety nets, and Keynesian macroeconomic policies, democratic political institutions and collective bargaining, this system produced a long period of more equitably-shared prosperity in most industrial democracies. In the Unites States, abundant natural resources, a large and growing internal market and business-dominated national economic policies combined to cause "scientific management" to be more deeply entrenched in schools, governments, and industries than was true in other industrialized democracies.

The New Deal took some of the rough edges off of "scientific management" by encouraging collective bargaining and imposing . . .

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