TECHNOLOGY AND WORK DESIGN
After studying this chapter, students should be able to:
Contrast process reengineering and continuous improvement processes.
Describe an e-organization.
Summarize the implications of e-organizations on individual behavior.
Explain the job characteristics model.
Contrast the social information processing model to the job characteristics model.
Explain how work space design might influence employee behavior.
Describe how a job can be enriched.
Contrast flextime and job sharing.
Compare the benefits and drawbacks to telecommuting from the employee’s point of view.
Technology is changing people’s jobs and their work behavior. Quality management and its emphasis on
continuous process improvement can increase employee stress as individuals find that performance expectations
are constantly being increased. Process reengineering is eliminating millions of jobs and completely reshaping the
jobs of those who remain, and mass customization requires employees to learn new skills.
The e-organization, with its heavy reliance on the Internet, increases potential workplace distractions.
Managers need to be particularly alert to the negative effects of cyber-loafing. In addition, the e-org will rely less
on individual decision making and more on virtual-team decision making. Probably the most significant influence
of the e-org is that it is rewriting the rules of communication. Traditional barriers are coming down, replaced by
networks that cut across vertical levels and horizontal units.
An understanding of work design can help managers design jobs that positively affect employee
motivation. For instance, jobs that score high in motivating potential increase an employee’s control over key
elements in his or her work. Therefore, jobs that offer autonomy, feedback, and similar complex task
characteristics help to satisfy the individual goals of employees who desire greater control over their work. Of
course, consistent with the social information processing model, the perception that task characteristics are
complex is probably more important in influencing an employee’s motivation than the objective task characteristics
themselves. The key, then, is to provide employees with cues that suggest that their jobs score high on factors
such as skill variety, task identity, autonomy, and feedback.
Work space design variables such as size, arrangement, and privacy have implications for
communication, status, socializing, satisfaction, and productivity. For instance, an enclosed office typically
conveys more status than an open cubicle, so employees with a high need for status might find an enclosed office
increases their job satisfaction.