You are on page 1of 16

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

14

25

JOBS AND THE DESIGN OF WORK

CHAPTER SCAN
Work design is important because of the impact the design has on productivity. The Job
Characteristics Model includes skill variety, task significance, task identity, autonomy, and
feedback as major considerations for job design. In contrast, the social information-processing
model considers information from others in the organization about the work to be just as
important. This chapter examines the meaning of work, four traditional approaches to job design,
four alternative approaches to job design, and emerging issues in job design.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Define the term job, and identify six patterns of defining work.
Discuss the four traditional approaches to job design.
Describe the job characteristics model.
Compare the social information-processing (SIP) model with traditional job design
approaches.
Explain the interdisciplinary approach to job design.
Compare Japanese, German, and Scandinavian approaches to work.
Explain how job control, uncertainty, and conflict can be managed for employee well-being.
Discuss five contemporary issues in the design of work.

26

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

KEY TERMS
Chapter 14 introduces the following key terms:
job
work
meaning of work
work simplification
job enlargement
job rotation
cross-training
job enrichment
Job Characteristics Model
Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS)
social information-processing (SIP) model
lean production
sociotechnical systems (STS)
technocentric
anthropocentric
job sharing
flextime
virtual office
technostress
task revision
counter-role-behavior

THE CHAPTER SUMMARIZED


I

THINKING AHEAD: Structured Jobs and Fixed Work Schedules

II.

WORK IN ORGANIZATIONS

Work is effortful, productive activity that results in a product or service. Work plays an important
role in connecting people to reality. Work is organized into jobs, and people get work done
through sets of task and authority relationships that make up organizations.
A.

The Meaning of Work

The meaning of work differs from person to person, and from culture to culture. One
recent study found six patterns people follow in defining work that help explain the
cultural differences in peoples motivation to work. Nevertheless, people in many cultures
seem to make a similar distinction between the nature of their work and the context in
which they perform the work.
B.
Jobs in Organizations
Jobs are the basic building block of the task and authority relationships that define an
organization's structure. Differentiation is the process of subdividing organizational work

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

27

into jobs. Integration is the process of connecting jobs into a coordinated, cohesive whole.
Jobs are interdependent and require careful planning and design.
III.

TRADITIONAL APPROACHES TO JOB DESIGN

Failure to differentiate, integrate, or both may result in poorly designed jobs, which may lead to
performance problems. In contrast, well-designed jobs improve productivity and enhance
employee satisfaction. Four approaches to job design developed during the twentieth century
include scientific management, job enlargement/job rotation, job enrichment, and the job
characteristics theory.
A.

Scientific Management

Scientific management emphasized work simplification through job specialization. Work


simplification is the standardization and the narrow, explicit specification of task activities
for workers. The scientific management approach emphasized efficiency but also
dehumanized labor. It undervalues the human capacity for thought and ingenuity, resulting
in boring, monotonous work and lack of involvement.
B.

Job Enlargement/Job Rotation

Job enlargement is a method of job design that increases the number of tasks in a job in
an attempt to overcome the boredom of overspecialization. Job rotation is the systematic
shifting of workers from one task to another over time. These approaches did not change
the nature of the tasks performed, but did improve work with regard to repetition and the
mechanical work pace. Cross-training is a variation of job enlargement in which workers
are trained in different specialized tasks or activities.
C.

Job Enrichment

Job enrichment designs jobs by incorporating motivational factors into them. Job
enrichment increases the amount of responsibility in a job through vertical loading.
Employees are given more tasks, and more freedom and control in carrying out those
tasks. Job enrichment is based on an oversimplified motivational theory and does not
consider individual differences among employees.
D.

Job Characteristics Theory


The Hackman and Oldham model of job characteristics is a framework for understanding
person-job fit through the interaction of core job dimensions with critical psychological
states within a person. The Job Characteristics Model includes five core job
characteristics: skill variety; task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback from
the job itself. The model also includes three critical psychological states: experienced
meaningfulness of the work, experienced responsibility for work outcomes; and
knowledge of results. Unless all of the characteristics are present, the outcome proposed
may only result in short-term success. The easiest aspects to enhance are skill variety and
task identity. The Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) is a survey instrument designed to
measure the elements in the Job Characteristics Model. An alternative to the JDS is the

28

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work


Job Characteristics Inventory (JCI). Although not as comprehensive as the JDS, the JCI
does measure core job characteristics.

IV.

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO JOB DESIGN

Limitations of the traditional job design approaches have stimulated the development of four
alternative approaches. These alternative approaches to job design include social informationprocessing (SIP), the interdisciplinary approach, the international perspective, and the health and
well-being approach.
A.

Social Information Processing

The social information-processing model suggests that important job factors depend in
part on what others tell a person about the job. It emphasizes the interpersonal aspects of
work design and helps people construct social realities associated with their jobs.
B.

Interdisciplinary Approach

This approach builds on the job design approach. The model incorporates four approaches
because it asserts that no one approach is comprehensive enough. The mechanistic,
motivational, biological, and perceptual/motor approaches make up the interdisciplinary
model. Table 14.2 summarizes the positive and negative outcomes of each job design
approach.
1.

Mechanistic Approach

The mechanistic approach is patterned after the scientific approach and has its
roots in mechanical engineering. Outcomes include decreased training time and less
likelihood of errors, as well as lower job satisfaction and lower motivation.

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work


2.

29

Motivational Approach

The motivational approach draws from industrial psychology and results in higher
job satisfaction and higher motivation, but also involves increased training time and
a greater chance of errors.
3.

Biological Approach

The biological approach results in less physical effort and fatigue and higher job
satisfaction, but requires higher financial costs because of the necessity to change
equipment in order to achieve those reductions.
4.

Perceptual/Motor Approach

Experimental psychology produced the perceptual/motor approach that reduces


the likelihood of accidents and errors, and decreases training time. However, it also
results in lower job satisfaction and motivation.
C.

International Perspectives on the Design of Work

Japanese work systems emphasize collective and cooperative working arrangements. The
German approach to job design originally consisted of a technocentric focus on
technology and engineering, but has moved to an anthropocentric, or human centered,
approach more recently. The Scandinavian perspective places its emphasis on worker
control and social support systems.
D.

Work Design and Well-Being

Organizations should consider the effects of job design on worker health and well-being.
Some ways in which organizations can impact worker health and well-being include
increasing worker control, reducing worker uncertainty, and managing conflict and
task/job demands.
V.

CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN THE DESIGN OF WORK


A.

Telecommuting

Telecommuting involves fulfilling work responsibilities from home or other locations


geographically separate from the companys primary location. Notebook computers enable
individuals to complete work responsibilities from virtually any location while traveling.
Telecommuting can result in feelings of social isolation.

30

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work


B.

Alternative Work Patterns

Alternative work patterns allow flexibility among people and time to complete a set of
tasks. Job sharing is an alternative work pattern in which more than one person occupies
a single job. Flextime enables employees to set their own daily work schedules.
C.

Technology at Work

The virtual office is a mobile platform of computer, telecommunication, and information


technology and services that enables mobile workforce members to conduct business
virtually anywhere, anytime, globally. Technostress is the stress caused by new and
advancing technologies in the workplace.
D.

Task Revision

Task revision involves innovative modification of incorrectly specified roles or jobs.


Counter-role behavior is deviant behavior in either a correctly or incorrectly defined job
or role, and results in poor performance in cases where a role or task is correctly defined.
When roles or tasks are incorrectly defined, counter-role behavior is a useful way to
correct for the problem.
E.

Skill Development

One source of stress from new information technologies is the growing gap between the
skills needed for the new technologies and the skills employees have in using the
technologies. Skill development must be considered in conjunction with job design.
VI.

MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: THE CHANGING NATURE OF WORK

VII.

LOOKING BACK: Flexible Work Schedules, Job Sharing, and a Female CEO

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

31

CHAPTER SUMMARY
Error: Reference source not found Different countries have different preferences for one or
more of six distinct patterns of defining work.
Error: Reference source not found Scientific management, job enlargement/job rotation, job
enrichment, and the job characteristics theory are traditional American approaches to the
design of work and the management of workforce diversity.
Error: Reference source not found The social information-processing (SIP) model suggests that
information from others and the social context are important in a job.
Error: Reference source not found The interdisciplinary approach draws on mechanical
engineering, industrial psychology, experimental psychology, and biology in considering the
advantages and disadvantages of job design efforts.
Error: Reference source not found The cultural values and social organizations in Japan,
Germany, and Scandinavia lead to unique approaches to the design of work.
Error: Reference source not found Control, uncertainty, conflict, and job/task demands are
important job design parameters to consider when designing work for the well-being of the
workers.
Error: Reference source not found Telecommuting, alternative work patterns, technostress,
task revision, and skill development are emerging issues in the design of work and the use of
information technology.
REVIEW QUESTIONS: SUGGESTED ANSWERS
1. Define a job in its organizational context.
A job is a set of specified work and task activities that engage an individual in an organization.
2. Describe six patterns of working that have been studied in different countries.
In Pattern A, the value of work comes from performance of activities for which people are
accountable and self-directed. Work is devoid of negative affect. Pattern B people define work as
an activity that provides a positive affect and identity. It contributes to society and is not
unpleasant. Pattern C people view work as an activity where profits accrue to others by
performance. Work is strenuous and somewhat compulsive. Pattern D people define work as a
physical activity directed by others, and usually devoid of positive affect. Pattern E people see
work as unpleasant physically and mentally strenuous activity. In Pattern F, people define work as
an activity constrained to specific time periods that does not create positive affect when
performed. Work is defined most positively and with the most balanced personal and collective
reasons for participating in the Netherlands. In contrast, work is least positive in Germany and
Japan.

32

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

3. Describe four traditional approaches to the design of work in America.


Work simplification is the standardization and narrow, explicit specification of task activities for
workers. Job enlargement and job rotation involve increasing the number of tasks in a job and
systematic shifting of workers from one task to another over time, respectively. Job enrichment
designs jobs by incorporating motivational factors into them and increases the amount of
responsibility in a job through vertical loading. The Job Characteristics Model focuses on five core
job characteristics and three critical psychological states.
4. Identify and define the five core job dimensions and the three critical psychological states in
the Job Characteristics Model.
The five core job dimensions include skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and
feedback. Skill variety is the degree to which the job requires multiple skills and talents. Task
identity is the completion of an identifiable piece of work. Task significance is the degree to which
the job has a substantial impact. Autonomy is freedom and independence. Feedback is clear and
direct information on job performance.
The critical psychological states are experienced meaningfulness of work (the job is valuable and
worthwhile), experienced responsibility for work outcomes (personal accountability), and
knowledge of results (an understanding of how well one is performing the job).
5. What are the salient features of the social information-processing (SIP) model of job design?
The SIP model has four salient features. First, other people provide cues that help workers
decipher the work environment. Second, other people help workers judge what is important in a
job. Third, other people tell workers how they see those workers jobs. Fourth, both positive and
negative feedback from others helps workers understand their feelings about their jobs.
6. List the positive and negative outcomes of the four job design approaches considered by the
interdisciplinary model.
Table 14.2 provides a comprehensive summary of the outcomes of these approaches. Outcomes of
the mechanistic approach include decreased training time and less likelihood of errors, as well as
lower job satisfaction and lower motivation. The motivational approach results in higher job
satisfaction and higher motivation, but also involves increased training time and a greater chance
of errors. The biological approach results in less physical effort and fatigue and higher job
satisfaction, but requires higher financial costs because of the necessity to change equipment in
order to achieve those reductions. Outcomes of the perceptual/motor approach include reduced
likelihood of accidents and errors, and decreased training time, as well as lower job satisfaction
and motivation.

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

33

7. How do the Japanese, German, and Scandinavian approaches to work differ from one another
and from the American approach?
The Japanese approach to work is collectivist in nature, while the U.S. approach is highly
individualized. The Japanese work system emphasizes strategic and cooperative working
arrangements. Americans emphasize personal identity and social benefits of work. The German
approach values a highly educated workforce and emphasizes a highly efficient hierarchical work
environment. The social democratic tradition in Scandinavia stresses social concern over
efficiency, with numerous laws supporting the rights and health conditions of workers.
8. Describe the key job design parameters considered when examining the effects of work design
on health and well-being.
Key job design parameters include: worker control through opportunity to control aspects of
work and the workplace, machine and task design, and performance-monitoring feedback
systems; uncertainty reduction by providing timely and complete information, clear and
unambiguous work assignments, improved communication, and employee access to information
sources); conflict management through participative decision making, supportive supervisory
styles, and sufficient resources; and task/job design improvement by enhancing core job
characteristics.
9. What are five emerging issues in jobs and the design of work?
Five emerging issues in jobs and the design of work include telecommuting, alternative work
patterns, technology at work, task revision, and skill development.

DISCUSSION AND COMMUNICATION QUESTIONS: SUGGESTED ANSWERS


1. Is there ever one best way to design a particular job?
In the context of the existing technology at any one point in time, there may be one best way to
design a job. However, rapidly changing technology and the challenges of global competition
make it essential that workers and managers constantly seek to improve on whatever job design
may currently be in place.
2. What should managers learn from the traditional approaches to the design of work used in the
United States?
Scientific management helps us understand how to make jobs more efficient. Job enlargement and
job rotation aid in understanding the importance of eliminating boredom in jobs. Job enrichment
provides knowledge about how to make jobs more motivating. Job characteristics theory points
out features that workers want in jobs, and links those features to important psychological states
those workers experience.
3. Is it possible for American companies to apply approaches to the design of work that were
developed in other countries?
It will be particularly important for American companies to consider and apply some of these
approaches as (1) they continue to increase their interactions with companies in other countries,

34

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

and (2) the diversity of the U.S. workforce assimilates more and more individuals from other
countries and cultures.
4. What is the most important emerging issue in the design of work?
Telecommuting has eliminated the need for many people to travel to work. Alternative work
patterns have made it easier for employees to manage work/home conflicts. Technostress is a
phenomenon related to modern technologies, and it should be minimized in any job redesign
effort. Skill development will be at a premium as employers try to minimize the gap between the
skills demanded by new technologies and the capabilities of the workers.
5. Read about new approaches to jobs, such as job sharing. Prepare a memo comparing what
you have learned from your reading with one or more approaches to job design discussed in the
chapter. What changes in approaches to jobs and job design do you notice from this
comparison?
This assignment can generate excellent class discussion as students share what they have learned
about new approaches to jobs. Students may also have personal experiences with some of these
new approaches that can add depth to the discussion. Additional discussion can focus on the
advantages and disadvantages of these new approaches to job design for organizations and
employees.
6. Interview an employee in your organization or another organization and develop an oral
presentation about how the job the employee is doing could be enriched. Make sure you ask
questions about all aspects of the employees work (e.g., what specific tasks are done and with
whom the employee interacts on the job).
As students present how jobs could be enriched, challenge them to be specific about the actual job
they are discussing and to explain how the enrichment recommendations they made will
potentially improve outcomes for the employee and for the organization.
7. Based on the materials in the chapter, prepare a memo detailing the advantages and
disadvantages of flextime job arrangements. In a second part of the memo, identify the specific
conditions and characteristics required for a successful flextime program. Would you like to
work under a flextime arrangement?
Students should consider the advantages and disadvantages of flextime job arrangements from
both the employees and the organizations perspective. Encourage any students who have worked
under a flextime arrangement to share their experiences with the class.
ETHICS QUESTIONS: SUGGESTED ANSWERS
1. Assume that a company is planning to redesign all of the jobs in one department based on the
advice of a major consulting firm. Should the company discuss the job redesign plans with
employees before implementing them? Should the employees have been consulted prior to hiring
the consulting firm?
This situation relates to the Job Characteristics Model. The job redesign plans may affect any or
all five of the core job characteristics, and may significantly affect employee motivation as a result.

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

35

Consequently, the company should certainly discuss the redesign plans with employees before
implementing them.
2. Assume that a company is aware of certain psychological or physical risks associated with a
job, such as respiratory problems and cancer risk associated with the installation of asbestos.
Assume also that the medical costs for workers will not be too great. Is it ethical not to warn
employees about the possible health risks? Would it make a difference if the risks were less
permanent, such as lower back tension or temporarily altered vision?
Employees must be informed about the potential health hazards of their jobs, and employers must
make every effort possible to control or eliminate such hazards. This is not only an ethical issue,
but a legal one as well. Failure to provide a safe work environment can result in compensation
awards. Permanence of effects on worker health is irrelevant.
3. Suppose that the design of a particular job exposes employees to a health or safety risk and
that redesigning the job would cost the company more than paying the medical claims if an
employee is injured or hurt. Should the company tell employees doing the job about its decision
not to redesign the job to make it safer? Is it ethical for the company not to redesign the job?
The company has an obligation to correct the situation. Workers have legal rights to learn about
significant risks.
4. Assume that a company has many older, mature workers. Rather than retrain them in new
technologies, the company wants to replace the older workers with younger ones. Should this be
allowed?
Such a practice is not only unethical, but would likely expose the company to age discrimination
lawsuits, as well. It has been tested recently in connection with downsizing efforts. One company
reduced the number of its senior employees, while hiring less expensive, younger individuals at
another site. The courts ruled in favor of the dismissed workers.

CHALLENGES
14.1 DIAGNOSING YOUR JOB
Encourage students whose jobs score low in motivating potential to consider specific changes in
the design of the job that could improve the motivating potential. As an alternative, use the
students job with the lowest motivating potential as an example for class discussion, and have the
class develop specific suggestions for redesigning the job.
14.2 IS YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT A HEALTHY ONE?
This challenge also provides an opportunity to discuss the impact unhealthy work environments
have on the people who work in them. Encourage students to share examples of the impact their
healthy or unhealthy work environment has had on them and/or on their coworkers.

36

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

EXPERIENTIAL EXERCISES
14.1 CHAOS AND THE MANAGERS JOB
In recent years there has been a flurry of books and articles about how organizations and the way
they are changing. The questionnaire in this exercise is an entree into the new world of what
managers and leaders are actually doing these days in organizations. It is titled A Managers
Job. It has been administered to nearly 500 MBA students and young managers, about equally
divided between men and women and for the most part between the ages of 23 and 33. About 20
percent of the respondents have been from countries other than the United States. To experienced
managers, the items on this questionnaire are familiar territory. Students will have to think about it
a little differently from the way that beginning managers approach it, but regardless of level of
experience, the point can still be made.
The point is a simple one: we arent prepared for the sort of world this questionnaire portrays.
The culture doesnt prepare us: our management textbooks and classrooms dont prepare us.
Experienced managers, however, consistently report that this questionnaire mirrors their work
environment very well.
How do respondents do on the questionnaire? One who would enjoy it very much would end up
with a 4.0 average. One who finds each item very unpleasant for me ends up with a zero. The
range is narrow, and no particular subpopulation of age, sex, experience, or nationality seems to
do better or worse than any other subpopulation. The average score is between 1.5 and 1.6a
D+/C- sort of grade. The range is between about 1.0 and 2.2.

However, most young people are unprepared for life in such organizational worlds. They think
management and leadership are something different from this. What do they think these are?
What mythology of the managerial job do they hold?
Some myths of management that may be operating include:
1. The myth of one person called the manager.
2. The myth that what the leader leads and the manager manages is a single, relatively
autonomous organization.
3. The myth of control through hierarchical chain of command.
4. The myth that organizational culture is not important to organizational success.
5. The myth of some product or service as the primary output of the organization.
6. The myth that analysis and study are the most important means of understanding
organizations.
SOURCE: D. Marcic, Option B. Quality and the New Management Paradigm, Organizational
Behavior: Experiences and Cases, 4th ed. (Minneapolis/St. Paul: West Publishing, 1995): 296297.
14.2 A JOB REDESIGN EFFORT

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

37

Instructor's Notes:
An obvious model to use is the core Job Characteristics Model. Students have a tendency to
consider only one or two of the characteristics. Point out that this often leads to a more
disgruntled employee than if nothing had been attempted.
ALTERNATIVE EXPERIENTIAL EXERCISE
THEY WANT ME TO GO TO SINGAPORE TO BE A MANAGER!
Instructor's Notes:
Many students may be globally conscious, yet do not want to be assigned to work internationally.
This exercise aids students with a dilemma that they might encounter. Students are able to share
their concerns and anxieties while trying to remedy Joe's problems.
In addition to the previous questions, you may wish to have students spontaneously respond to
the question about how to solve his problem with his mother, his family, and his guilt at being
viewed as lacking motivation. He is living out other people's expectations, and has action anxiety.
This is a good role play exercise. Joe can interact with his supervisor, the Human Resource
department, and his mother.

38

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

THEY WANT ME TO GO TO SINGAPORE TO BE A MANAGER!


Adapted from Connie Bowman, Defense Logistics Agency
Joe Pratt is a manager for a major appliance manufacturer, Whirlwind Corp. His boss has just
informed him that in 2 months he will be sent overseas to Singapore to head up marketing for the
Washer/Dryer Division based there. His overseas assignment will last 2 years. His boss told him
that he would be part of a management team of 4 managers from Germany, Singapore, and Japan.
His boss also told him that he would send over the company's Overseas Assignment Orientation
booklet and information about housing. If he had any other questions prior to his departure, Joe
should call his boss or the Human Resource department.
After the conversation with his boss, Joe didn't know what to think. He hadn't expected an
overseas assignment. He has never been overseas and his boss didn't say anything about training.
An overseas assignment was not really appealing to him and he could never understand why
anyone would want to spend time living anywhere but the United States. He was also worried
about what his family would think, since his mother was a senior manager in another city.
Joe had secured the position without her assistance, yet he realizes that he has benefited by having
such a visible name connected with her success. Joe is confused. He wanted to make a career
with this company, but wonders if he has the motivation necessary. In addition, he doesn't want to
disappoint his parents, since they, no doubt, will be thrilled with the advancement opportunity.
1. If you were Joe's supervisor, what information about job enrichment could you provide Joe?
2. What information about how jobs are viewed in Japan would benefit Joe in Singapore?
3. What other specific training information would be beneficial to Joe?

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

39

EXTRA EXPERIENTIAL EXERCISES


The following alternative exercises to supplement the material in the textbook can be obtained
from:
Marcic, Dorothy, Seltzer, Joseph, & Vaill, Peter. Organizational Behavior: Experiences and
Cases, 6th Ed. South Western College Publishing Company, 2001.
Job Design Exercises. p. 185-189. Time: Part A 30 minutes, Part B 25 minutes.
Purpose: To explore the dimensions of the job enrichment model and to consider how
jobs can be redesigned.
Emily Fife and Learning a Living. p. 191-194. Time: 60 minutes.
Purpose: To consider job descriptions and job design under conditions of continual
change and widespread interdependence of jobs.
CASE QUESTIONS: SUGGESTED ANSWERS
JOB DESIGN IMPLICATIONS OF FORDS C3P SYSTEM
1. Using the job characteristics model, analyze and discuss the work design implications of
Fords C3P system.
The students should consult Figure 14.1 in responding to this question.
The C3P system promotes skill variety, task identity, and task significance. Skill variety is
enhanced because the C3P system promotes collaboration and provides the technical tools to
do work in ways that were not feasible beforehand. As the case indicates, an engineer working
on a project for a few hours in England is able to hand off the design to another engineer who
works in Germany, who in turn works with another person in Australia. This interactive and
collaborative capability accomplishes two additional things in terms of work design. First,
there is a greater sense of task identity because employees are better able to see the whole
job and to recognize their own role in that broader whole. Second, the C3P system enables
employees to better recognize the complex interplay of the thousands of factors that go into
the design, engineering, and manufacture of a vehicle. This can enhance task significance.
Collectively, these elements enhance the extent to which Fords technical staff is able to
experience their work as being meaningful. Also, work will more likely be perceived as
meaningful when the workload is distributed effectively and when appropriate expertise is
utilized. The C3P system enables Ford to do both.
Autonomy and the resulting experienced responsibility for the outcomes of work are enhanced
because the C3P system enables Ford employees throughout the world to have access to the
information they need in order to do their jobs effectively. Additionally, the system enables the
technical staff to have more control over how they are doing their jobs.
Shared information promotes feedback and the knowledge of actual results of work activities.
Feedback and knowledge of results are enhanced as well through each vehicle teams Web
site. Here, team members can post questions and progress reports, note bottlenecks, and
resolve quality issues that arise in production; thereby more feedback and more meaningful
feedback become available to all team members.

40

Chapter 14: Jobs and the Design of Work

The personal and work outcomes for Ford employees include improved productivity and
satisfaction. The technical staff is able to get more work done in less time. As a consequence,
their personal satisfaction is increasing. In addition, there have been beneficial outcomes for
the organization, including: the optimal use of resources from around the world for work
collaboration; substantial savings due to the elimination of costly conflicts and mistakes;
reduction in the amount of time it takes to get a new vehicle into full production; and the
potential positive benefits for Fords working relationships with its suppliers.
2. Explain why technology can be an important consideration in work design.
Technology refers to the tools, techniques, and knowledge for accomplishing work. Thus,
technology is inherently involved in the design of work.
Technology is a significant driving force in how work is done. Often, technology is an enabler
of work. In other words, technology permits work to be accomplished in ways that it could
not be done before. Technology can help to make work more efficient. Technology can also
enable people to develop and use different skills.
All of the aforementioned benefits were produced by Fords C3P system. Effective and
efficient worldwide collaboration became possible. Technical employees had greater control
over how they did their jobs, and had better access to the information they needed to do their
jobs. As a consequence, costly mistakes were avoided and the time to get a vehicle into full
production was reduced by 33 percent.
3. What useful lessons about work design can be derived from this case?
Several useful lessons can be identified from the case. These lessons include the following:
The changing needs of business affect not only what jobs need to be done but
also how they are done.
Technology, when appropriately used, can help enrich jobs and peoples work
experiences.
Technology permits the time shifting of work.
Technology can be a very powerful tool for fostering information sharing and
collaboration at work.
While technology is a driving force in the design of work, it is not the only
force. The capacities, characteristics, and needs of the human beings doing the
work must be considered as well. Indeed, perhaps the most important lesson
revolves around the necessity to consider the interface between technology and
people in the design of work.