Worker Impact on the Change Process in a Food Processing Plant
SubjectTotal quality management--United States; Industrial management--Employee participation--United States; Industrial relations--United States
The problem. Quality management consultants and change experts generally agree that change must come from the top of an organization. This viewpoint may constitute a fatal flaw in attempts at workplace reorganization in America. This study views the process from a management and worker perspective, looking for evidence that change may be a worker initiated and sustained process. Methodology. This study is a naturalistic inquiry into the change process at a food processing plant in the Midwestern United States. The enterprise is attempting to reorganize production processes in order to improve the quality of finished products. The researcher is engaged in facilitating, documenting, and analyzing the change process. Findings. The researcher engaged in a facilitated, interactive change process with the union and management at the study site, observing, participating, and documenting a wide variety of activities which surfaced claims, concerns, and issues, and which resulted in an integrated statement of understanding regarding the change process and actions associated with that process. Conclusion. This study confirmed that the use of hermeneutic circles is an effective method of surfacing differences in perspective, experience, motivation, and commitment to a change process. This method was expanded by a storytelling process which surfaced similarities and common ground allowing participants to engage in the development of joint constructions, which led to shared planning and action. The researcher's human instrument, based on a Rogerian counseling approach, created an environment which allowed both union and management to develop new constructions of their relationship.
239 leaves. Advisor: S. Pike Hall