Academic journal article International Journal of Employment Studies

Lagged Harm of Work Restructuring and Work Alienation to Work Commitment

Academic journal article International Journal of Employment Studies

Lagged Harm of Work Restructuring and Work Alienation to Work Commitment

Article excerpt

Given that alienation in the workplace is debilitating and detrimental to the worker's performance (Gallie et al. 1998; Jex 1998), it is tempting to examine if restructuring in the workplace creates similarly adverse impacts. This examination is in response to the controversy about the noxious impacts of work restructuring as alienating, disempowering, proletarianizing, and demoralizing (Beardwood et al. 1999; Gallie 1996; Kim 2003) and the favorable impacts due to the improvement of work conditions and work commitment because of technological advancement and high-quality management (Cappelli and Neumark 2001; Glenday 1995; McManus 2000). As such, the adverse impact of work restructuring is likely to hinge on its alienating effect. It is likely that work restructuring does not impair work commitment if it is not alienating. The study thereby aims to demonstrate the relationship between work alienation and work restructuring and their joint impact on working people's work commitment and thus the impact of work restructuring under the condition of work alienation. Furthermore, the study investigates if the alienating effect of work restructuring is stronger on the lower, working class worker than on the higher or middle class worker. This investigation serves to verify the theory about work alienation that alienation is detrimental to workers who are powerless or deficient in resources. Findings from the investigation would resolve the controversy about the impact of work restructuring by identifying work alienation as the condition for the adverse impact, especially for lower class people. The study's data is drawn from repeated surveys of working people in Hong Kong, China.

Work Restructuring, Work Alienation and Their Impacts on Work Commitment

Work restructuring and work alienation serve as predictors of work commitment. Work restructuring consists of changes in employment, work processes, and products in the work organization. Work alienation refers to work conditions that separate the working person from the enjoyment of work products, work processes, social interaction, and realization of talents. Work commitment registers the working person's desire to work (efficiently, creatively, and diligently) and enjoy work. It is worth promotion and research because it is relevant to career success and advancement personally (Buckingham 1999; McBrier and Wilson 2004), job performance (Pang and Watkins 2000), organizational commitment (Buckingham 1999) and conducive to organizational success (Farr et al. 1998). For this reason, research has identified work alienation as an impediment to working people's work commitment (Vallas 1988). This knowledge is a basis for examining whether work restructuring impairs work commitment due to the association of work restructuring with work alienation. Such an examination is necessary because of the controversy about the impact of work restructuring on work commitment, in a positive (Gallie et al. 1998) or negative way (Grunberg et al. 2000).

Work restructuring refers to changes in the workplace that upgrade work processes, products, and the workforce by streamlining, downsizing, and task enrichment (Bailey and Bernhardt 1997; Cigno 1997). It primarily serves to advance the efficiency of work by reducing redundant inputs (Armstrong-Stassen 2002; Campbell-Jamison et al. 2001), especially in view of keen competition and even economic crisis (Lee and Teo 2005). In the arena of workforce management, work restructuring manifests itself as subcontracting (Uzzi and Barsness 1998), pay reduction or polarization (McManus 2000), training (Chiu et al. 1997; Cigno 1997), and job enrichment (Farr et al. 1998). Work restructuring alters work processes through automation (Chiu et al. 1997), client-orientation (Cigno 1997), and self-management (Cappelli and Neumark 2001). With respect to products, work restructuring emphasizes product design (Kwong 1997) and service and information provision (Elman and O'Rand 2002; Farr et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.