Responses of skilled industrial workers to imposed technological change
Reardon, Robert Francis
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The purpose of this study was to conceptualize and understand the responses of skilled industrial workers when faced with an imposed technological change. There were three research questions. 1) What responses are the strongest when skilled industrial workers are faced with imposed technological changes? 2) How can these responses best be grouped into conceptually meaningful dimensions of response to imposed technological changes? 3) To what extent do the learning culture of the company, demographics of the employee and attractiveness of the imposed technological change explain these dimensions? The central construct, response to imposed technological change, was induced from the literature related to diffusion of innovations, technological change management, learning organizations, and informal learning. A questionnaire was developed that included 54 items to measure response to imposed technological change, seven items to measure the learning culture of the organization, six items to measure the attractiveness of the imposed technological change, and eight items to measure the demographics of the participants. The questionnaire was completed by 288 workers at twelve manufacturing sites throughout the southeastern United States. There were six major findings from this study: 1. The responses of skilled industrial workers to imposed technological change can be grouped into seven empirically-derived dimensions of response. These are Disgruntlement, Job-security concerns, Accommodation, Informal learning, Resistance, Discussion, and Formal learning. 2. The strongest of these dimensions are accommodation, informal learning and discussion. 3. An increase in the attractiveness of the imposed technological change increased desirable responses and decreased undesirable responses among the employees. 4. A strong learning culture in the organization facilitates informal learning, even in an industrial environment with rotating shifts. 5. Job-security concerns caused by the imposed technological change are stronger among African- American employees than white employees. 6. Resistance to the imposed technological change increases with employee age.