Automation and Morale

by Otis Lipstreu



Much speculation has been directed toward the psychological response of the worker to change generated by modern technological transition, commonly and very loosely labeled "automation." However, relatively little systematic research, on a before-and-after basis, has been reported. This article seeks to provide information and observations concerning the effect of massive, technological change on the attitudes and feelings of over six hundred plant employees. There is little question that the over-all "tone" or climate of an organization in a behavioral sense is an integral factor enhancing or detracting from the level of teamwork present in a work situation. And a general employee attitude characterized by a positive readiness to be motivated is a vital component of profitable economic enterprise. Lowered morale and its effects are phenomena that research and managerial hindsight illuminate with startling clarity. But making definitive plans, anticipating morale fluctuations during periods of technological change, and developing preventive action to cushion the negative effects appear, at least from previous practice to be neglected matters. However, if these attitudinal results are supported by other investigations, management can ill afford to continue to overlook the "software" of change in their preoccupation with the "hardware."

California Management Review

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