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• Action and performing groups – carry out time limited performances to an audience (for example,
fire fighters, nurses, musicians).
• Advisory groups – work outside of but in parallel with the production
Chapter Case Studies
Case Study 4.1: IBM Endicott
Walker (1950) described a job enlargement scenario in IBM Endicott. This was said to increase production rate
and quality (supposedly via increased job satisfaction). This case study was critical to illustrating the
interconnectedness of job content (including technological factors), ‘intrinsic’ reward and productivity, within
the human resources tradition. It is also important to note that, in this instance, the culture of IBM Endicott
was conducive to the job enlargement programme, indicating the need to recognize the role of wider factors in
the job content/job satisfaction/output equation (Hollway, 1991: 100).
Case Study 4.2: The Longwall Method of Coal Getting
Trist and Bamforth’s (1951) seminal study of a coal mine as a ‘socio-technical system’ launched the concept of
the autonomous workgroup. The study looks at the implications for miners in a Durham colliery of a new
method of goal getting (the Longwall method). This new method created many problems, including reduced
worker cooperation and trust between workers on different shifts, higher levels of ill-health and productivity
deficits. This was attributed to the decease imposed by change in worker and workgroup autonomy, de-skilling,
and curtailed opportunities for communication by creating greater temporal and spatial distance between
workers and created a new intermediate social structure with high task and remuneration interdependence but
no social integration. Trist and Bamforth (1951) called for those involved in organizational restructuring to see
how changes to technical systems (machinery, work layout) can have a profound unanticipated effect on the
social system. They recommend that companies strive for maximal congruency of task and social work
structures (in this case ensuring that task interdependence operates chiefly within rather than across shifts) and
preserve or introduce ‘responsible autonomy’, job rotation, flexibility and meaningful whole-tasks to small
workgroups. When ‘group production’ was introduced into this system, the problems described earlier were
solved. From this and other work, Trist and colleagues went on to formulate socio-technical systems (STS)
theory (Emery & Trist, 1969).
Whilst STS theory addressed itself mainly to the problem of introducing new technologies to a social system
without addressing the human dimension, its legacy is now more firmly associated with the concept of an
autonomous workgroup as a panacea work design solution for the manufacturing sector. Many European
companies took up this panacea promise in the 1960s and 1970s as a means of addressing problems of high
absenteeism, strikes and sabotage, low product quality and coordination difficulties rife in the manufacturing
sector at the time (Den Hertog, 1977).
Case Study 4.3: Leadership in the National Health Service
Recently, various high profile media cases have raised the salience of the leadership issue in the UK National
Health Service (NHS) in the public mind. Examples where lack of effective leadership (and the lack of inter-
professional collaboration or teamwork) has been an explanation for inadequate (‘fragmented’) health care
practice include the public inquiry into cardiac surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary (www.Bristol-
inquiry.org.uk/final_report, HMSO 2001), and the death of Victoria Climbié (Department of Health, 2003).
Such cases, coupled with the reality of inter-agency health care, have created an unprecedented increase in
organizational complexity, making inter-professional collaboration a contemporary health care imperative. As
Griffiths (2003: 144) notes, ‘interface issues are likely to assume increasing strategic importance over the next
few years and the boundaries between primary, secondary care, health and social care and treatment and
prevention will demand closest attention’.