Date of Award

5-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Management

Advisor

Fredendall, Lawrence

Committee Member

LaForge , Lawrence

Committee Member

Zagenczyk , Thomas

Committee Member

Moore , Dewayne

Abstract

Over the years, the manufacturing industry has witnessed a number of work design practices, based on different principles, which have significantly shaped the nature of work and have affected employees' behavior and performance. This study compares the socio-technical systems (STS) principles and lean production (LP) principles in to explore the potential for synergistic integration between the two. They are categorized according to the common overarching goals of these principles, and through a process of theoretical rationalization, these categories are operationalized into the work design practices of middle management support, social practices usage, and technical practices usage.
A model of work design is proposed to test the relationships between these work practices and to understand their effect on employees' quality of work life and performance. The effect of task interdependence is also examined since teams are the basic unit of analysis in STS and LP approaches to work design. This model is tested with a cross-sectional survey research in which team leaders in manufacturing plants in the United States were the key respondents.
Statistical analyses of survey data yielded three key findings. Middle management support has a positive direct and indirect effect on improved employee performance, a positive direct effect on social practices usage, and a positive indirect effect on technical practices usage and on employees' quality of work life. Social practices usage has a total positive direct effect on technical practices usage, and a positive indirect effect on employees' quality of work life and their performance. Technical practices usage has a direct effect on both quality of work life and employee performance.
This study provides empirical support for the definition of lean production posited by Shah and Ward (2007). Results indicate that middle management is crucial for the implementation and sustainability of a lean system because it offers the support necessary for the usage of social and technical practices. Applications for manufacturing organizations and suggestions for future research are presented.

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