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III.

SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS OF WORK


A. Low-trust and high-trust systems
1. Low-trust system:
Jobs are set by management and are geared to machines
Workers are closely supervised and have little autonomy over how their job
is performed
Level of worker dissatisfaction and absenteeism is high
Examples:
a. Taylorism:
Frederick Winslow Taylor
system of production designed to maximize industrial output (scientific
management);
detailed study of industrial processes that could be precisely timed and
organized (time and motion studies)
associated with deskilling and degradation of labor
b. Fordism:
Henry Ford, introduced assembly line
Ford reasoned that if standardized commodities such as the
automobile were to be produced on an ever-greater scale, the
presence of consumers who were able to buy those commodities must
also be assured
system of mass production tied to the cultivation of mass markets
weaknesses/criticisms: not applicable to all industries, mechanized
production is expensive to set up
2. High-trust system:
Workers are permitted to control the pace and even the content of their
work (within overall guidelines)
Usually concentrated at the higher levels of industrial organizations
B. Industrial Conflict
There have long been conflicts between workers and those in economic and
political authority over them. In the past, there were riots against high taxes and
food riots at periods of harvest failure.
1. Strikes
A temporary stoppage of work by a group of employees in order to express a
grievance or enforce a demand
o Temporary: workers intend to return to the same job with the same
employer
o Stoppage of work: different from a slowdown
o group of employees: a strike is a collective action

o express a grievance
Reasons for going on strikes:
1. Gain higher wages
2. Forestall a proposed reduction in their earnings
3. Protest against technological changes that make their work duller or lead to
layoffs
4. Obtain greater security of employment
Strikes are essentially mechanisms of power:
a weapon of people who are relatively powerless in the workplace and whose
working lives are affected by managerial decisions over which they have little or
no control; a weapon of last resort
Other types of conflict:
1. Lockout (in which employers rather than workers bring about a stoppage of
work)
2. Output restrictions
3. Clashes in contract negotiations
2. Labor Unions
Developed as a means of redressing the imbalance of power between
workers and employers
Established forms of negotiations with employers
They can only block employers policies or initiatives, very few get to help
formulate them in the first place
50s to 80s saw a steady growth of union density: a statistic that represents the
number of union members as a percentage of the number of people who could
potentially be union members
Features of countries that reached the highest levels of union density:
1. Strong working class political parties
2. Bargaining between firms and labor unions was coordinated at the
national level rather than occurring in decentralized fasion a sectoral or
local levels
3. Unions rather than the state directly administered unemployment
insurance, ensuring that workers who lost their jobs did not leave the
labor movement.
Fall of union density:
Association with high levels of unemployment
Increasing intensity of international competition
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