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Task specialization and organizational attachment: an empirical study of industrial blue-collar workers in Vancouver, British Columbia Jamal, Muhammad

Abstract

The research reported in this thesis is an attempt to test empirically the proposition that specialization in jobs negatively affects the organizational attachment of industrial blue-collar workers. Task specialization refers to the condition where the components of work process are divided into various minute tasks and only a limited number of tasks are assigned to an individual job. In the present study task specialization was operationalized in terms of production-line mechanization in workers' departments. Organizational attachment refers to a specific kind of relationship between a worker and his organization in which the worker (1) accepts and supports the goals and policies of the employing organization, (2) shows a willingness to exert effort for the success of his employing organization, and (3) shows a strong desire to remain a member of his employing organization. The above three dimensions of organizational attachment were measured by asking various questions of workers. The field work for this research was done among industrial workers in Vancouver, British Columbia. A total of fifteen companies were contacted over a period of four months. Of the nine companies which agreed to participate in the research, six were purposely selected in such a way as to have an equal number of workers at each level of production-line mechanization. Data were collected by the method of a structured questionnaire, as well as by direct observation. A total of 550 production workers in six companies were given the 'Organizational Attachment Questionnaire', and 68 percent (377) of these workers returned a completed questionnaire. An average of six to eight hours was spent in each company in observing the technological processes entailed in workers' jobs. To measure the extent of association between production-line mechanization and organizational attachment, Somers' D, which is a strong monotonic asymmetric measure of association for ordinal variables, was computed. The zero order analysis suggested a negative association between production-line mechanization and overall organizational attachment. The first order analysis suggested that there was a negative association between production-line mechanization and overall organizational attachment only for workers who were in the middle age group (30-44), who were male, who had been in the company for less than five years, and who held less than three jobs in their employing organizations. It was also found that task repetition and task simplification were, respectively, negatively related with workers' willingness to exert effort for the success of the employing organization and workers' desire to remain in the employing organization for an indefinite period of time.

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