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Industrial work groups: the impact of job design, leader support and group processes on initiative and self-organization
Örebro University, Department of Behavioural, Social and Legal Sciences.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

From an organizational perspective the issue of which organizational solutions will benefit productivity, efficiency and the innovation process is central. Work groups can be an effective means. The general aim of the thesis from a psychological perspective is to examine work conditions and thereafter investigate how such conditions impact on whether or not work groups redefine stipulated tasks to incorporate initiative-taking and self-organization, thus enabling them to implement meaningful change.Based on action regulation theory, detailed work task analysis is assumed to be worthwhile as it provides data that cannot be captured with interviews or questionnaires exclusively. Data is based on work task analyses and questionnaires administered to work groups at four Swedish industrial organizations. In Study I a theoretical model of the relations of job design, work routines and social routines and reflexivity and learning processes was tested. Results showed that job design and work routines strongly impacted on reflexivity and learning processes. In Study II this model was extended into a theoretical inputprocess- output model to include group initiative and self-organizational activities as outcomes of job design, mediated by group processes. The model provided substantial, but not complete, support. Job design strongly impacts on reflexivity, and reflexivity directly impacts self organizational activities. To explore the importance of leadership support and potency longitudinally for group initiative, in Study III two data collections were included. The findings showed that potency, compared to perceived autonomy and support from leader, was the best predictor of group initiative. Together the studies show that the dimensions of job design, support from leader, reflexivity, and potency as well as cooperation and social support are important for the outcomes of work groups if the organization wants groups to take initiative and engage in self-organizational activities. It is also advocated that job design contains an inherent potential for learning and the possibility to make use of one’s resources. Main findings, strengths, limitations, practical and theoretical implications, directions for future research and when it will be worthwhile to invest in group work are included in the discussion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet , 2008. , p. 68
Series
Örebro Studies in Psychology, ISSN 1651-1328 ; 15
Keyword [en]
Industrial work groups, job design, support from leader, group processes, potency, group initiative, self-organizational activities
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-2453ISBN: 978-91-7668-628-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-2453DiVA, id: diva2:136268
Public defence
2008-10-24, Omega, Hus R, Högskoleplan, Västerås, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-09-19 Created: 2007-09-19 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Job design for learning in work groups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Job design for learning in work groups
2007 (English)In: Journal of Workplace Learning, ISSN 1366-5626, E-ISSN 1758-7859, Vol. 19, no 5, p. 269-285Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose--What is required of job design and production planning, if they are to result in a work group taking a self-starting approach and going beyond what is formally required of it? This paper aims to contribute to group research by testing a theoretical model of relations between job design on the one hand (captured as completeness, demand on responsibility, demand on cooperation, cognitive demand, and learning opportunities), and reflexivity and learning processes within natural work groups in industry on the other hand. Design/methodology/approach--The results are based on detailed task analyses and questionnaires from 40 work groups at the shop-floor level in manufacturing industry in Sweden. Findings--Job design and work routines show strong effects on reflexivity and learning processes. Four dimensions of job design--completeness, demand on cooperation, cognitive demand and learning opportunities--impact on reflexivity and learning processes. Job design correlates with social routines, and social routines with work routines. Practical implications--It is crucial to create a job design that puts challenging demands on the group if group processes are to be characterized by reflexivity and learning. Managers have a challenging task to provide both a space and a climate that supports reflexivity and learning. All functions affected by production planning need to be involved in job design to balance conflicts between productivity and innovation. Originality/value--Detailed task analysis is worthwhile as it captures aspects that are prerequisites for innovative groups not previously accounted for. (Contains 2 figures and 4 tables.)

National Category
Social Sciences Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-8676 (URN)10.1108/13665620710757833 (DOI)
Note
Part of thesis: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-2453Available from: 2009-12-04 Created: 2009-12-04 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
2. Group initiative and self-organizational activities in industrial work groups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Group initiative and self-organizational activities in industrial work groups
2009 (English)In: European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, ISSN 1359-432X, E-ISSN 1464-0643, Vol. 18, no 3, p. 347-377Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Autonomous work groups are involved in goal setting and planning and hence can define their jobs and the outcome idiosyncratically. Our interest lies in how job design restricts or creates possibilities for groups to redefine their work and thus go beyond formal requirements. The aim was to test a model of the relationships between dimensions of job design, group processes, group initiative, and self-organizational activities. The results are based on work task analyses and questionnaires administered to 31 work groups at four Swedish industrial companies. The theoretical input-process-output model received substantial support. Dimensions of job design affect whether a group, through collective reflexivity, can redefine work and proactively create conditions and organize work so that uncertainty can be handled and new tasks mastered. Group processes such as cooperation and social support enhance group initiative to achieve such meaningful change. In this study, reflexivity does not impact on group initiative, but does explain the major amount of variance in self-organizational activities. Work task analyses can be a useful tool for providing groups with the prerequisites for self-organizational activities. We believe these to be essential for the groups' capacity to be involved in the innovation process from idea to finished product.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Hove: Psychology Press, 2009
National Category
Social Sciences Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-8675 (URN)10.1080/13594320801960482 (DOI)
Available from: 2009-12-04 Created: 2009-12-04 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
3. Group initiative: to go beyond what is required
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Group initiative: to go beyond what is required
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Social Sciences Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-8677 (URN)
Available from: 2009-12-04 Created: 2009-12-04 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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