Job Design and Quality of Working Life
James C. Taylor
Socio-Technical Design Consultants, Inc.
This chapter addreses two main points. First, new information technology has been introduced into white-collar work to automate routine. This means technology drives decision making, jobs are not being reconceptualized, and employees are alienated from their work. Yet a service occupation using automated tools requires employees to be dedicated and thoughtful exception handlers, rather than machine operators. Second, socio-technical design strategies are useful tools to bring together technology, organizational goals, and people to generate jobs that accomplish the organization's mission and contribute to the quality of working life--in particular those aspects of quality of working life usually associated with the professions. This theme is elaborated by examples showing how socio-technical design worked and by detailing the analysis tools that socio-technical design uses.
American society, its people, its institutions, its business environments and its technology have all changed dramatically during the past 40 years. These turbulent environments, changing constantly in magnitude of force and direction, were identified 20 years ago by Emery and Trist ( 1965). Yet, in job and organizational design, many managers continue to copy from the past as if nothing significant has happened. They are reproducing organizations structured around principles and assumptions some of which were already old at