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. The new technology also blurs the line between managing and working, requiring workers—craftsmen, machine operators, or engineers—to become generalists who will have to deal with unstructured and open-ended problems. Hirschhorn links theory to the shop floor, examining such issues as the role of unions and the economics of the job shop and describes a new type of factory setting where supervisors are teachers and workers are organized into teams paid according to how much they have learned.
About the Author
Larry Hirschhorn is principal and senior research manager at the Wharton Center for Applied Research.
"Ever since Henry Ford decided to build cars on an assembly line, monotony has been the lot of a growing number of American workers. Larry Hirschhorn has good news: the postindustrial age will bring variety and challenge to factory work."
- Robert Wright, The New York Times Book Review