Men, Management, and Mental Health

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

CHAPTER VI
CHANGE

A s in most other companies, many of Midland's processes were being automated. A new unit was being installed in a power plant which would almost double its generating capacity. The unit was nearly ready to go on the line. The method of handling the boilers, turbines, and auxiliary equipment was radically different from the system which had existed in the plant up to that time. Before, operating crews were split into three groups. One group fired boilers, another group operated auxiliary equipment such as fuel lines and switches, while a third group handled controls on the turbines and generators, together with the connections to the transmission lines, through a huge substation located between the plant and the river.

In the new unit, a smaller number of employees operated the interlocking complex of equipment systems by remote control. The firebox was seen, not through a peephole on the face of the furnace, but on a television screen. Instead of wrestling with a giant valve to regulate fuel or water, the operator flicked a switch or turned a dial, and electronic controls did the work. Instead of the heat, noise, and dirt on the plant floor, the work environment for operators and maintenance personnel now was a long, coolly lighted room, dominated by a gigantic control panel which was a maze of dials, colored lights, and switches. The roar of the plant was reduced to a hum; people were summoned not by the siren heard in the old plant but by a muted telephone bell.

Only a small number of the employees worked in the new unit. Most continued to work in the old environment, but there was

-80-

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Men, Management, and Mental Health
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xv
  • Chapter I - Midland 1
  • Chapter II - Approach 13
  • Chapter III - The Unwritten Contract 22
  • Chapter IV - Interdependence 39
  • Chapter V - Distance 57
  • Chapter VI - Change 80
  • Chapter VII - The Other Sixteen Hours 106
  • Chapter VIII - Reciprocation 122
  • Chapter IX - The Resolution of Organizational Conflict 144
  • Chapter X - Toward Action 157
  • Appendix I - Research Team Operations 173
  • Appendix II - Announcement of the Midland Study in Employee Publication We Are the Learners 183
  • Appendix III - Oral Report to Midland Employees 187
  • References 198
  • Index 200
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