UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Technology and supervision Merner, Gerald Blane


This thesis undertakes to assess the effects of technology on foreman behavior. The data were gathered by observation in a number of industrial settings in the lower mainland of British Columbia. The observer accompanied the foremen, noting the relevant technological characteristics of the foreman's area of responsibility and the time spent by him on various activities. The concept of production technology is first analyzed in terms of its two dimensions—conversion and transfer mechanization. An order for each is established. The term foreman is also considered, and some restrictions are placed on its meaning in this study. Other technological dimensions, considered relevant to foreman behavior, are then outlined. These include the existence and size of buffers, communication aids, complexity, spatial dispersion and supervisory aids. The second part of the paper is devoted to a description of the relation between the machine technologies and other technological variables. The amount of time foremen, as a group, spend on various activities is then detailed, and this is then broken down by technology. Considerable variations across technologies are found. The variation in spans of control across technologies is then described. A series of hypotheses concerning such things as spans of control, time spent on interaction of various types with subordinates, superior and other foremen, and time spent on other activities such as slack, social interaction, production and paper work are then drawn and tested. It is concluded that much of the variation that appears with technology can be explained in terms of the differential occurrence of the other technological dimensions with technology.

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