Shopfloor workers' experiences of and responses to quality management
2014-12-11T10:35:02Z (GMT) by
Whilst a high percentage of organisations claim to be using practices associated with quality management, there has been a lack of research that explore shopfloor accounts of their experiences of quality management (Clark et al., 1998; Bacon, 1999). This research examines shopfloor worker experiences of and responses to quality management in two manufacturing companies, with a focus upon human resource issues. The study examines how the 'rhetoric' of quality management was experienced in the workplace. It reveals that shopfloor responses were shaped not only by the formal translation of quality management into the workplace, but also by other factors. These included the degree of acceptance from the trade union (or consultative committee). This issue has been raised in the literature (Edwards et al., 1998). However, responses were also affected by lateral relationships that fall outwith the formal management/employee interface. This has not been widely recognised to date. Specifically, informal workplace relationships formed another filter through which quality management was judged. Furthermore, responses were also moulded by perceptions of the needs of key external stakeholders. These included the customer, and non-work based stakeholders including the family and in one case presented here, the local community. This study suggests that in order to produce a deeper understanding of employee experiences of work, both vertical and lateral relationships must be acknowledged and accounted for. This approach helps explain why workers may retain their loyalty to a firm, despite downsizing, insecurity and day-to-day frustrations or why they may appear to have assimilated the quality management rhetoric, at the same time as feeling an intense alienation from work.