Studies in Personnel and Industrial Psychology

By Edwin A. Fleishman | Go to book overview

nology is, by far, the greater of the two powers; at least as long as the two technologies remain separate from one another. But it is already becoming clear, back at the theoretical level of describing organizations and building organizational models, that the two are inseparably intertwined. The computer is already a tool for psychological and organizational research. Human relaters are already going cognitive, studying with new vigor the processes of conscious thinking and problem solving; studies which will, I am confident, yield a general descriptive theory of organization and administration; a theory which will, in turn, bear practical fruit.


47. Adapting Organization to New Technology*

Frank J. Jasinski

GETTING A NEW machine or production process to live up to advance expectations is often a hard job. Few are the companies that have not had frustrating experiences at one time or another in achieving the improvements that were supposed to come from a new line of automatic presses, or a more modern extrusion process, or a promising change in the conveyer system.

Invariably the question comes up: What went wrong? Sometimes, of course, the trouble is simply that the estimates in cost savings or productivity increases were too optimistic. Sometimes the engineering is faulty. Sometimes the loss of a key supervisor, a strike, or a change in some other part of the plant is to blame. And sometimes the new technology is too hard on workers and supervisors, or threatens them in some way so that they resist it.

We are all familiar with such troubles. They are cited again and again. But there is another common type of difficulty--one that is rarely cited. It is a peculiarly management problem in that it both begins and ends with management, and no group but management can deal with it effectively.

Let me state this problem first in an abstract way; later we can go into detail and illustration. The idea is this: a change in production or technology affects organizational relationships. For example, a supervisor may find himself working with other supervisors and groups with whom

____________________
*
From Harvard Business Review, Vol. 37, 1959, pp. 79-86.

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