For many companies, the past decade has been marked by a sense of turbulence and redefinition. The growing role of information technologies and service businesses has prompted companies to reconsider how they are structured and even what business they are in. These changes have also affected how people work, what skills they need, and what kind of careers they expect. One critical change in how people work, argues Larry Hirschhorn, is that they are expected to bring more of themselves psychologically to the job.
In this revealing study, Larry Hirschhorn examines the rituals, or social defenses, organizations develop to cope with change. Using extended ease studies from offices, factories, and social services, he describes why these often irrational practices that fragment and injure individuals within the workplace exist, how they operate, and how they can be reshaped to enhance people's work experience.
Human skill and judgment are needed now more than ever to effectively run today's complex computerized production systems. In this thought-provoking study of work, worker, and machine in the postindustrial age, Hirschhorn points out that factories will become places of learning where the worker must be able to diagnose and solve an array of problems generated by error-prone machine systems.With numerous examples he shows that the new technology can fail in unexpected ways and that human judgment has become increasingly important.