Technical change and work organisation

  • Barry Wilkinson

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis is an exploration of the social and political processes involved in the introduction of new technology to the shopfloor. Through a series of case studies
    of applications of microelectronics to batch manufacture, it attempts to uncover the ways in which the values and interests of managers, engineers, workers and others profoundly influence the choice and use of technology, and thus the work organisation which emerges.
    Previous analyses have tended to treat new technology as if it had "impacts" on work organisation - especially skills - which are inevitable in particular technical and economic circumstances. It is in opposition to this view that technical change is here treated as a matter for social choice and political negotiation, the various interested parties to the change being shown to attempt to incorporate their own interests into the technical and social organisation of work.
    Section one provides the relevant background to the
    case studies by summarising and criticising previous theoretical and empirical work in the area. The inadequacies of this work for our concerns are drawn out, and the need for detailed studies of the political aspects of technical change is justified. The case studies are presented in section two as a set of "episodes" of innovation, and section three analyses the empirical findings. The innovations
    are compared and contrasted in order to illustrate the social and political dynamics involved in the various stages of the innovation process. Finally some comments are made on policy issues for which the research has important implications.
    Date of AwardNov 1981
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorErnest Braun (Supervisor)


    • work organisation
    • technology
    • innovation
    • politics

    Cite this