Readying the Unready: Postindustrial Jobs

by Louis Davis



Many planners behave as if one way of putting a job together were as good as any other. It may be possible to cut a skill in two and give half to man A and half to man B. But if that cut destroys any meaning in the work, the job designer had better spare the surgery. Taking apart a job is very much analogous to disassembling a clock or dissecting an animal: in a clock or an animal, there is an ordered relationship among parts; in jobs, there is an ordered relationship of the individual tasks to the functioning of the whole sociotechnical system. If the needs of individuals for meaningfulness are at issue, then the results of taking apart a job and reconstructing it become very serious indeed. New job structures that are created must be relevant to the social outcomes that are required. There should also be an ordered set of relationships through which an individual progresses to arrive at a job that is viable and meaningful, and that has continuity for him and for the organization. Technology today is so rich in potential variations and arrangements that design decisions can depend almost exclusively on the social side of the situation.

California Management Review

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