UBC Theses and Dissertations
The role of technology as a determinant of industrial work group behavior Hatchett, Sydney John
This is a study investigating employee behavior within the work group as structured by the technology utilized in the work process. While it is true that factors other than the form of technology influence work group behavior, a sincere attempt is made to reveal the frequency and type of behavior that may be attributed to a particular educational form. It is assumed that a plant has specific types of technology, that is, the technology is set; therefore, the question is what behavior will result from a specific technology, given a certain mix of variables? The object of this study based on Sayles' Behavior of Industrial Work Groups, Walker and Guest's The Man on the Assembly Line, and Blauner's Alienation and Freedom is threefold: 1. To investigate the direct influence of technological characteristics on organizationally relevant behavior. The technological characteristics deemed meaningful are the form of transfer technology binding the group, the form of conversion technology involved in product manufacture, and the number of cycles per hour passing through the group. The technologically dependent factors expressed in organizationally relevant behavior are the degree of grievance and pressure activity, the number of unplanned spontaneous outbursts, the participation of the group in union activities, the amount of voluntary turnover, and the degree of absenteeism. 2. To investigate the influence of technological characteristics on the behavioral consequences of the technology. The behavioral consequences of the technology are the intervening variables that are associated with a particular technological form and may influence the ultimate behavior pattern. They are: attention requirements of the job, frequency of break in the job routine, mobility of workers in the group, work standards involving judgment, the degree of conversation, group status, and group cohesiveness. 3. To investigate the influence of the behavioral consequences of the technology on organizationally relevant behavior. The method of investigation is through the direct observation of the aforementioned variables as recorded on a predetermined scale. The direct observations are then supplemented by descriptive information obtained from an interview schedule with first level supervisors and other levels of management. The results of these methods of investigation are presented in the body of the thesis. The general conclusions reached are as follows: 1. No direct trend relationship is found between the degree of technological characteristics and the degree of organizationally relevant behavior. On the whole, a curvilinear relationship between the technological form and organizationally relevant behavior as described by Blauner in Alienation and Freedom is discernable; however, there are many exceptions. 2. The degree of the behavioral consequences of the technology such as attention requirements of the job, frequency of break in the job routine, mobility of workers in the group, work standards involving judgment, and the degree of verbal communication are found to be related to the form of technology. However, no relationship was found between the degree of status or cohesion and technological form. 3. The behavioral consequences of the technology such as attention requirements of the job, frequency of break in the job routine, mobility of workers in the group, and work standards involving judgment play an important role in explaining work group behavior. In-group communication, and group cohesiveness have little influence on organizationally relevant behavior.
Item Citations and Data