Manual Workers: Conflict and Control

Laurie Graham

in The Oxford Handbook of Work and Organization

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780199299249
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

 Manual Workers: Conflict and Control

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  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Business Ethics


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This article examines the nature of recent changes that have taken place in organizational structures in unionized manufacturing settings, changes that contribute to the downward trend of unionization. When applied in their most effective manner, the changes limit the ability of this occupational group to exercise its historically strong influence on the shop floor. This article begins with an introduction to labor process theory and a brief history of shop-floor control. This is followed by a general description of the Japanese-Style Management System (JSMS) and its impact on organizational change. The article also discusses how the JSMS works to undermine worker control. It examines first, formal controls that union workers have established through negotiated contract language and second, informal controls such as solidarity arrangements that workers created to benefit each other. The last two sections of this article include examples of worker resistance and concluding remarks.

Keywords: organizational structures; unionized manufacturing settings; shop-floor control; Japanese-Style Management System; worker control

Article.  7469 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business Ethics

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