Dutch Socio Technical Systems Theory - a 'third Way' in the Design of Work Groups?

Gough, Richard and MacIntosh, Malcolm (2003) Dutch Socio Technical Systems Theory - a 'third Way' in the Design of Work Groups? Working Paper. Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.


The organisation of work groups now occupies a central place in the study of employment relations. Godard and Delaney (2000) suggest this preoccupation reflects the decline of institutional bargaining systems in western economies, and the resurgence of interest in the importance of management choice in determining working arrangements. The present paper enters this discussion with a review of the importance of organisational factors in shaping work organisation. In particular it is focussed on the importance of technological arrangements on the form and nature of those arrangements. The work of the Dutch Socio Technical Systems (STS) School is used to illustrate the importance and potential of technology to shape such work arrangements. The debate about the changes which have occurred in work organisation in the last 20 years has taken a number of paths. A dominant preoccupation in the literature is whether the changes which have taken place are part of a broader shift from Fordist work organisation to an emerging paradigm based on teamwork, multiskilling, standardisation and greater worker autonomy (Belanger , Giles & Murray 2002). More perceptive proponents of the concept of an emerging model, including Belanger, Giles and Murray, recognise that a stable pattern has not yet occurred and that there are tensions within the model. In particular, the extent to which employees have increased decision-making power is seen to vary between countries, workplaces and industries (Appelbaum & Batt 1994; Muller, Proctor & Buchanan 2000; Edwards, Geary & Sisson 2002).

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Item type Monograph (Working Paper)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/139
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Management and Information Systems
Keywords work groups; employment relations; institutional bargaining; teamwork; multiskilling; standardisation
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