Decollectivization and recollectivization in the workplace: the impact of technology on informal work groups and work culture

A look at technologies effects on informal work groups.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on August 28, 2012


Technological rationalization has been found to have a disintegrative effect on informal work groups. I offer a new explanation of this phenomenon of decollectivization by arguing that a rationalized work process, in calling for less worker skill, also provides less of a motive for workers to form such groups and to create work culture within them. I also assert that the impact on work culture is the most serious consequence of technological rationalization since it impairs workers' collective ability to respond to further rationalization. Contemporary 'job redesign' experiments are then interpreted as managerial attempts to recollectivize the workplace through the institution of rationalized work groups with rationalized cultures. Limitations on these attempts are also considered.

Originally appeared in Economic and Industrial Democracy November 1981 vol. 2 no. 4