Quality of work life: perspectives and directions

Quality of work life: perspectives and directions

The real thrust of quality-of-work-life programs-improving organizational life and behavior and the fundamental health of the organization-should resu...

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The real thrust of quality-of-work-life programs-improving organizational life and behavior and the fundamental health of the organization-should result in a higher level of organizational performance and a better work environment.

Quality of Work Life: Perspectives and Directions David A. Nadler Edward E. Lawler,

III

ore than a decade has passed since the phrase

mise could result in the loss of important

“quality of work life” (QWL) was first intro-

concepts and valid approaches.

duced. During this period, QWL has been the subject of many academic papers, experiments in different settings and, recently, in-

antidote

to fadism,

in this

and the

case, would be a clear assessment and definition of QWL- that is, a sober realization of what it is, what can be done, what can be ex-

popular press. At the same time, we have witnessed increasing confusion about what QWL means and what its imp1ication.s for

pected, and under what conditions one might truly expect QWL efforts to succeed. This article attempts to provide such a per-

action are. It now appears that QWL may become another victim of the managerial fadism syndrome that strikes down so many

spective. We will discuss the origins of QWL as a concern, as well as its various defini-

workplace

tion quickly becomes passe as it ceases to be

definition of QWL, with the goal of focusing the discussion. Then we will raise certain is-

new and loses the attention of the press and of managers who have been told to use it. We feel it would be a major mistake to repeat this pattern with QWL because its de-

sues and concerns about the current state of the art and, finally, discuss factors that our research indicates predict the success of QWL projects.

creased interest

20

One

among managers

innovations;

this year’s innova-

tions.

We will provide

our own working

Organizational Dynamics, Winter 1983. 8 1983, AMACOM Periodicals Division, American Management Associations. All rights reserved. 0090-2616/83/0016-0020/$02.00/O

ORIGINS OF THE QWL MOVEMENT

Over the past 10 to 15 years, two distinct phases of QWL activity stand out. The original one occurred during the period 1969 to 1974, when a broad, group of researchers, scholars, union leaders, and government figures became interested in how to influence the quality of an individual’s on-the-job experiences. There are several reasons why this concern emerged at that time. In the larger, generally affluent U.S. society, there were growing concerns about the effects of employment on the health and well-being of employees and about job satisfaction. And we were also hearing about a number of European innovations with autonomous work groups. A series of national attitude surveys conducted at the University of Michigan in 1969 and 1973 helped draw attention to what was called “the quality of employment,” or the sum total of the effects of job experiences on the individual. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sponsored an investigation of this issue that resulted in the widely publicized book Work in America (MIT Press, 1973). At the same time, the pressures of inflation prompted the government to address some of the same issues. It created a federal productivity commission, which in turn sponsored a series of labormanagement QWL experiments that were jointly managed by the University of Michigan Quality of Work Program and the newly formed National Quality of Work Center. This initial excitement and activity continued through the mid-1970s and then experienced a lull during the late 1970s as other issues, primarily inflation and energy costs, diverted national attention. Starting in 1979 and continuing to this day, a second cycle of interest in QWL emerged. What created this interest? The most important factor was probably international competi-

tion. The United States faced increasing competition in international markets-and in domestic ones from foreign-made goods. Previously, it had been easy to dismiss these foreign goods as the product of government subsidies or low-cost labor. But we began to recognize that perhaps other countries were doing something different managerially that might have something to do with their effectiveness. The Japanese stand out as the prime example of this phenomenon. We became fascinated with the notion of alternative management styles and the prospect that other countries had developed management (once viewed as a U.S. preserve) to a higher level. At the same time, many quality of work life projects that were started during the early 1970s had matured and begun to bear fruit. In particular, certain high-visibility initiatives, such as those by General Motors, began to catch the public eye. Coinciding with the increasing national concern over productivity as a major issue, these initiatives produced a critical mass of QWL projects in the United States. Therefore, by the early 1980s quality of work life had once again become a major concern, and people were trying to understand exactly what it was and how they might use its concepts to improve their organizations.

THE MANY FACESOF QWL

It would be an understatement to say that there has been, and continues to be, confusion about what the term quality of work life means. It has been used to refer to a wide range of concerns and projects, and it has been defined differently by its most articulate champions. Indeed, ,some of its staying power may be chalked up to its ambiguity because it can be, and has been, redefined as times have changed ‘and as different people have used it. One way of thinking about this

21

term and the movement nitions

is to review the defi-

that have evolved

during

the last 10

to 15 years; what we see is six potential nitions

of QWL.

during

the period

The a variable.

first

definition

and studies,

this area saw quality vidual’s

reaction

consequences talked

to improve

What

health,

the

quality

So we of work

for an indi-

at that time about

was that it focused

outcomes with

of the work

with

or the personal

QWL

was unique

such individual

in

of work life as an indi-

to work

the QWL perspective

impact

con-

of us working

an individual’s

life or how

or mental

discussions,

many

of the work experience.

about

vidual.

emerged

1959 to 1972 was QWL as

In the original

ferences,

that

defi-

as job satisfaction an emphasis

on the

on the individual

suggestion

on

that

and

organizations

should be evaluated on the quality of work life they provide for individuals. During the period 1969 to 1974, a number

of projects

primary

aim of getting

were initiated labor

ment to work collaboratively quality

with

the

and manageto improve

of work life. These included

the

the Gen-

at the Graduate

School of Business, Columbia

University and president of Organizational Research and Consultation, Inc. He received his M.B.A.

from the Harvard Business

in psychology from the University

of Michigan.

Before coming to Columbia,

wus on the stuff of the lnsfitute Research research

at the University

Bolivar,

as meaning

joint

labor-management

His

change, the use of feedback as u tool, and problems of groups in organizations. He has written many articles and five books on and organizational behavior, in-

management

with Richard

at

of Michigan.

focused on questions of planned organizational

mon

project

he

for Social

behavior has

on organizational

cluding Managing

Industries/UAW

School

and a Ph.D.

eral Motors/United Automobile Workers (UAW) project at Tarrytown and the HarTennessee. Because of these projects and their subsequent publicity, the term quality with cerof work life became synonymous tain approaches. Thus a second definition, QWL as an approach, emerged. As in the earlier definition, the focus’ was on the individual rather than organizational outcomes, but at the same time QWL tended to be seen

22

David A. Nadler is an udjuncf associate professor

(Little, Brown,

Organizational

and Edward

Huckmun

the course of his research has worked

Behavior

1979), which he coauthored Luwler.

with many major

In he

and consultation organizations

on

problems of organizational design, planned organizational change, and management. on the editorial Dynamics Behavioral

board

He is

of Organizational

and the Journal

of Applied

Science.

coop-

erative projects, particularly those aimed at improving outcomes for both the individual

ent innovations. In particular, the highly publicized project in the Topeka General

and the organization. During the

same

definition nonunion

stemming from some that were using differ-

Foods plant and similar projects in Procter and Gamble drew attention to specific ways of changing the workplace and its impact on individuals. These projects led to the third

emerged, experiments

period

another

definition, QWL as methods. People using, this definition talked of QWL as a set of methods,

approaches,

enhancing

the work

or technologies environment

ing it both more productive fying.

for

and mak-

and more satis-

In fact QWL was seen as being synon-

ymous

with

such concepts

work groups,

as autonomous

job enrichment,

of new plants as integrated

or the design

social and techni-

cal systems. As we have mentioned late 1970s was a period activity

decreased.

Many

terest in the subject slaught

during

which

the

QWL

of us felt that in-

had waned

of economic

before,

problems

with the onand

the en-

ergy problem. During this time, a number of people were concerned about maintaining the momentum

that had been created,

and

they decided to identify a coalition of interests that would support the continuation of QWL activities. Meetings were held among people doing experiments to identify that broad

coalition

of people

might be interested ects. Organizations the ideology emerged

or groups

who

in continuing QWL projwere formed to further

of QWL. Out of these activities

the fourth

definition,

QWL us a

movement. QWL was seen as more of an ideological statement and the worker’s zation.

about the nature of work relationship to the organi-

The terms participative management

and industrial democracy were frequently invoked as ideals of the QWL movement. In particular,

effort

was

spent

QWL from other approaches development.

The development

Edward E. Lawler, III, professor of orgunizutional behavior and director of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California, was formerly on the fuculties of Yule University and the University of Michigan. While at the University of Michigan, Dr. Luwler wus professor of psychology and program director in the Survey Reseurch Center at the Institute for Social Research. He bus been u visiting scientist at the Human Affairs Research Centers at the Butelle Memorial Institute in Seattle, Washington since 1977. He has also held a Fulbright fellowship at the London Graduate School of Business. In 1978, he founded and became director of the Center for EffectiveOrganizations, which is part of the University of Southern California. Dr. Luwler is a member of many professional organizations in his field and is on the editorial boards of five major journals. He is the author or coauthor of more than 700 articles and eleven books. His most recent books include Motivation in Work Organizations (Brooks/ Cole Publishing Co., 1973); Information and Control in Organizations (Goodyear Publishing Co., 1976); Managing Organizational Behavior (Little, Brown b Co., 1979); Organizational Assessment (John Wiley b Sons, 1980); and Pay and Organization Development (AddisonWesley, 1981).

differentiating to organization of QWL as a

movement, in retrospect, may have caused some division between those who use the QWL label and those who might have used other labels to describe their work to enhance organization’s health and effectiveness. A certain amount of stereotyping is at work here: With movements, all too often

one is either part of them or “against”

them;

there are no other possibilities. 1970s

As we mentioned before, the late and early 1980s brought renewed in-

terest in QWL. It was during this time that the fifth definition appeared. This definition is best described by the following scenario, which is based upon what we have witnessed

23

in several

fectiveness,

large companies:

and so forth,

supervisor The chairman

of the board

enlightened about

and

the future

some seminars tail party, becomes

individual

is an

of his organization.

or has a discussion experiments

QWL.

at a particular

dent with this, internal tion

indicate

with

that

their work,

surveys

people

company

or

Coinci-

less satisfied

about

from management

the future,

and the ideals

of the company. decides

that there is a need to im-

prove QWL; he sends out memos or makes speeches this concern.

While everyone

one is sure exactly what it means, is some passive

resistance

who are uncertain QWL program

agrees,

and typically

no

there

from senior management,

about

the chairman

this new development.

Fi-

decides that the firm will have a

and sends out instructions Senior

managers

of senior

turn to managers

in

the next level down and say, ‘We need some QWL.” In turn, convey manager

those folks turn to their subordinates the same message,

until a human

is told by his operating

QWL. They’re very interested

and

resources

manager,

‘We need

in it upstairs.

Get me

some.” Faced with this situation,

the human

ager has several

One is to go out and buy

some.

(Indeed,

choices. there

are

an

willing to sell “QWL packages” quality

circle fad.) Another

man resources

manager

work,

internal

array

-witness approach

to survey

ities that are going on, including opment

resources

consulting,

of

man-

vendors

the current is for the hu-

the various organization organizational

labeled

effectiveness

as part and parcel

with

problems,

perceived foreign quality

ly, the problem innovation

problems,

else. Clear-

with this definition

is that no

on all of these prom-

this expansion

definition

the

concept

where managers

become

confused

“what it is.”

created

and

for cop-

low-productivity

ises. In addition,

about

of

grievance

everything

can deliver takes

concept

as a panacea

competition,

and just about

of the QWL to the point

very concerned

Because of the expectations by the QWL-equals-everything

and being def-

inition, a possible sixth definition may appear in the near future: QWL equals nothing. We are concerned that the inevitable failure of some QWL projects (to be expected in any innovation) and QWL’s inability to deliver on some of the promises made will make the skeptics who went along with it only grudgingly turn against the concept. Finally, we will find that in many organizations the phrase

activ-

den term,

devel-

and organization

ef-

all organization

QWL is seen as a global

is frequently ing

scenario,

or organizational

efforts become

to imple-

ment one or puts QWL into the objectives management.

In this development

rates,

So the chairman

QWL equals

the fifth definition,

everything.

QWL.

in his own organiza-

are feeling

more uncertain

and more alienated

nally,

Out of this emerges

and

He may

some things that were done overseas.

discussing

just didn’t know we had it.”

He attends

with a consultant,

of this thing called

to his

got some. We

concerned

or talks with some people at a cock-

aware

read about about

of a large company

thoughtful

and then go back

and say, “Boss, we already

QWL will become a forbid-

along with job enrichment, development.

MBO,

Our view is

that it would be a real loss if this happened because the important substance of many QWL efforts might be lost in such a period of disillusionment . Figure 1 summarizes the definitions of quality of working life presented so far.

24

We will focus further on the issue of defining QWL after briefly highlighting our concerns with the current state of QWL practice and theory.

ISSUES AND CONCERNS

employees

at the bottom

are frequently

being

asked to do things that the top is unwilling Our major

concerns

cept of quality

focus on how the con-

of work life has evolved

the state of its application that concern concept,

today.

us include

entific/pragmatic low-level

of individual

of the

experience

perspective,

employees,

The issues

the vagueness

fadism/religious

vs. sci-

the focus

nai’ve views

behavior,

and

on

of causes

ndive views of orga-

do; specifically, making.

This

say,

what

not

inconsistency

some inherent or technical QWL

to use participative

personnel

problems

employees.

or “Do what

I do” approach drawbacks.

on the assembly

clearly

Middle have

as those

To assume

has

just as severe

of line-operative

that only the person

line is concerned

with QWL

of work life

ignores

other large groups

entitled

to the same level of consideration.

has not been firmly and clearly defined. In fact, some proponents of QWL have talked

ior. Recently,

behavior,

and quality

??

explicitly

about

not developing

specific defi-

??

of people who are

Nuke views of individual behavthose who have talked

QWL in some organizations that it will lead to greater

about

have proposed effectiveness be-

nitions. We believe this has led to continued misunderstanding and puzzlement on the part

cause it will make workers “happy” -and that, being more satisfied, they will produce

of many

that

more. Research

has

strated

managers,

and it is no surprise

concern

over the fuzziness

hindered

its implementation ??

Many

of the concept

and development.

Fadism/religiosity

vs.

science.

on organizations

consistently

satisfaction er levels

of performance

or advo-

lead to decreases

cated QWL refer to it as a cure-all,

as some-

Again,

wonders

as if by some

mystical process. In the extreme, as some sort of religious/sexual

it’s viewed experience

the expectation may

lead to high-

although

in turnover

will be productive therefore

has demon-

for the last 25 years that

does not necessarily

of those who have discussed

thing that will work

that happy

workers be setting

it may

and absences. workers

is misleading

and

up unreasonable

expectations.

had it, you’ll know what it is. This contrasts

Nuke views of organizational behavior. A good many of those experts who

with

perspective

have proposed

of concepts

a process

-that

is, when you’ve got it, or when you’ve the scientific

that describes

or pragmatic

QWL as a couple

??

QWL activities

whereby

have described

pilot projects

may be run

and tools that might be useful and that might

and good ideas, having

work in certain

will naturally spread throughout the organization and be institutionalized or made per-

situations.

Again,

the prob-

lem is that ideologists alienate those who haven’t bought into the ideological content

I

managers

and productivity. Vagueness of the concept. QWL

nizational

to

decision

seen the light of day,

of the definition, which, they feel, can create unreasonable expectations. Focus on low-level employees. Much QWL emphasis has been on first-level or line-operative employees. QWL has been described as something the top tells the middle to do to the bottom in organizations. ??

This

creates

problems

in two ways:

First,

25

manent.

They

the lowest vironment

also assume

unfavorable

to them.

the systemic

nature

to be very

skeptical

potential

that projects

What

we know

of organizations

for highly

that are instituted

about

participative

Second Definition:

of

Third Definition:

lev-

organizations.

Fourth Definition:

movement

Similarly,

Fifth Definition:

to expect

that pilot

projects

ects tend to be encapsulated disseminated ??

even when

tivity. The actual

tivities

QWL = Movement

QWL = Everything

(1979-1982)

pilot proj-

Sixth Definition:

OWL = Nothing

and do not get

they are successful.

Quality of work life and produc-

ity of work often

will

the organization

ignores the reality that, in general,

QWL = Methods

(1972-1975)

in the late 1960s showed this again and again. spread throughout

QWL. = Approach

(1969-1975)

(1975-1980)

somehow

QWL = Variable

(1969-1972)

processes

The lessons of the job-enrichment

ignored.

relationship

life efforts

between

will inevitably

qual-

share

some

is

conditions

that QWL ac-

activities.

and productivity

Some assume

lead to increased

of our may

lead

observations to

A WORKING DEFINITION

els of commitment, lower levels of turnover, and higher quality, but not necessarily to

We will begin by providing

higher productivity. The important thing to keep in mind is that QWL and such individ-

a concise

ual outcomes

people,

as satisfaction

on what

successful

QWL

pro-

ductivity. In many cases, this is simply not true. Such activities may lead to higher lev-

and productiv-

working

ty of work tive elements

definition

life is a way

work,

what we think is - that is, quali-

of thinking

and organizations. are (1) a concern

about

Its distincabout

the im-

ity can be addressed by some of the same kinds of actions, but they aren’t in a direct

pact of work on people as well as on organi-

cause-and-effect

zational

relationship.

ysis of each activity

is needed

what effect it is likely to have. assume

26

First Definition:

leads us

the degree

top-down

DEFINITIONS OF QUALITY OF WORKING LIFE

about

at low organizational

els in authoritarian

Figure I

at

levels will succeed even if the enwithin the larger organization is

that merely

Careful

anal-

to determine It is naive to

doing something

related

effectiveness, and (2) the idea of problem participation in organizational solving and decision making. It is important to reflect on this

to QWL will lead to higher productivity. In summary, we have major concerns about QWL. If we were totally skeptical about the concept, we could end this article here with a warning to all to beware of

definition. Specifically, there are two things that are important to keep in mind. First, the focus of QWL efforts is not only on how people can do work better, but on how work may cause people to be better. It is a concern

QWL. However, we are not universally skeptical and we prefer to see a realistic discussion and pragmatic application of QWL concepts. We will, therefore, try to provide a working definition of the concept and

that is different from other productivity or organizational enhancement efforts because of its focus on the outcomes for the individual. Second, a major distinctive aspect of QWL is participation in the process of mak-

ing major

organizational

decisions,

as differ-

cost-saving

innovations A fourth

entiated from full “participative management.” We are not saying that all decisions

improvements

are

The emphasis

made

in a participative

manner,

rather that people are involved of making decisions

some

important

by illustrating

that one might perceive QWL

organizational

that affect them. Another way of defining

operationally, efforts.

While

these include

levels.

organizational This may

ferent ways -for

come

which involve people level in understanding, ing problems. cipative

about

example,

Also,

at various in many

dif-

circles,

at the work-group analyzing, and solv-

there are various

organizational

diagnosis

partidesigns

and different types of labor-management operative problem-solving groups. A second is restructuring that individuals that surround

concern

co-

involves

environment.

here is on physical

tangible

conditions

dividual.

This may include

work and

surrounding

the

changes

in-

in work-

combination

with other kinds of activities.

Thus the types can be listed as follows:

of QWL

1. Participative problem 2. Work restructuring. 3. Innovative

rewards

activities

solving. systems.

4. Improving the work environment. This list is not intended to be inclusive, but it provides some idea of specific activities that fit our definition of QWL, and in our opinion, activities

describe

the vast majority

of

that are called QWL.

of QWL activity

the basic nature of the work do, and the work systems them,

work

and important in themselves, are typically limited in their impact, unless they occur in

a broad

in quality

the

of

out. First is solving, in-

members

in

is

QWL

as representative

workers.

ing hours, conditions, rules, or the physical environment. These changes, while visible

some activities

range of activities, a few stand the idea of participative problem volving

but

in the process

among

type of activity

FACTORSTHAT PREDICTSUCCESS

to make those working

arrangements more consistent with individual needs and with the social structures

Having

defined

mining

which

in the work setting. Work restructuring include such things as job enrichment,

quality-of-work-life

may the

use of autonomous work groups, or the design of complete technical systems and sets of jobs and procedures-particularly in the of new high-involvement development plants. A third type of activity

involves

re-

wards. We have long known that rewards are a major determinant of motivation, effort, and performance. In a number of experiments, the emphasis has been on creating innovative reward systems that will promote a different climate in the organization. Major examples of these are variations of the Scanlon plan, which divide the benefits of

ful than sources

QWL, we turn next to deterfactors

predict

why

some

efforts are more success-

others.

We will draw

of experience

and

on several

research

with

which we have been involved. In recent

years,

we have observed,

researched, and been involved with a variety of QWL projects that included union-management QWL projects, new high-involvement plants, gainsharing programs, workredesign efforts, and problem-solving group programs. Our work on these has led us to identify six factors that predict success in QWL projects. These are as follows: 1. Perception of need. 2. Problem organization.

focus

that

is

salient

to 27

3. Structure

for

problem

identification

and solving: theory/model-process-training and participants. 4. Rewards

designed

both

parties or

arise from nancial When

seem to succeed truly

a variety

or

of an outside

manager,

need

issues.

consultant,

a messianic

executive

the

need

has

that

are

there are several key factors:

to help participants

model for looking considering

theory

examine

- proj-

model

is not critical.

crucial

to have

the participants

and

that is salient to the organization. QWL projects are more likely to succeed when the

or a model for The specific

The point

is that it is

some underlying

theory

to use in dealing

for

and looking

at the issues that they will consider. process structured

it is important for problem

to have

support,

tools,

a

solving-that

is, a series of steps with appropriate that people

to be one

at quality,

the design of work.

Second,

the instiga-

to be successful.

Second,

Again,

processes

The first is the need for an underlying

of need-when

through

or a fad-inspired

may

such as fi-

competitive

purely

all in-

that there is a

of factors,

pressures

ects are unlikely

of need.

when

This

there is no perception

QWL is initiated tion

perceive

opportunity.

of QWL efforts is the structure

participative

understand issues. This roadmap might be a general diagnostic model of organizations, a

involvement.

The first is a perception

problem

created.

for processes

affected.

6. Organization-wide

volved

the

or roadmap

and for outcome. 5. Multiple systems

QWL projects

term impact of

and instruments.

kinds of To assume

will be able to solve new prob-

lems, in new settings, a completely

in new relationships

new and unstructured

in

way,

is

to make a signifi-

simply naive. Those places that have been most successful have provided participants

cant commitment in terms of resources, consultative help, time, and effort. Obviously,

with an orderly and systematic process for working on problems. This avoids putting

various

parties

are willing

this is more likely when perceived

QWL activities

are

to be aimed at issues that are crit-

ical to the fundamental

competitive

issues of

the organization, rather than at issues that are perceived as peripheral or of primarily cosmetic

value. Probably

determining

the most

the success,

critical

viability,

factor

and long-

them

in the situation

tured problems

where

new

unstruc-

have to be approached

with

new unstructured methods. Third, both of these factors

imply

the need for training participants. While it is exciting to think about the “noble working man or woman” and his or her innate intelligence and ability to solve problems, the

“When QWl is initiated purely through the instigation of an outside consultant, a messianic manager, OYa fad-inspired executive, 28 projects we unlikely to be successful. ‘I

fact is that many not necessarily cessfully solving.

in groups

not

been

in work settings

doing

complex

do suc-

problem

This is not to say those skills cannot

be developed, are

people

have the skills to work

common

trained

groups.

rather,

it is to say that they

-most

in how

Therefore,

people

to solve

most

have

not

problems

successful

in

projects

tivities

because

of the perception

quires an investment money,

and a loss of control

urable personal found

that

manage

benefit.

emphasis

models

pro-

to

together sense

in teams.

that

project,

At the core of this is a

a QWL

requires in

agement, agement

project,

like any

other

To just throw

a room-

be

they

senior management,

people

labor,

man-

or lower man-

or “make decisions” and expect them to produce significant results, is wholly unreasonable. Fourth, activities.

Rewards

rewards

must be built into

and the outcome

of QWL

may be internal;

that is,

people may feel that there is a reward being

able

to participate

ideas listened

and

to. Ultimately,

in just

having

important reward

one’s

in our experi-

to

while

im-

on expense

con-

into a project’s early phases the

participant’s

the project. to change

system

activities

effort

In addition,

in it is

those

aspects

of the

that implicitly

punish

people

QWL initiatives.

Finally,

to-

- and tell them to “solve problems”

both the processes

recognize

implementing

for undertaking

some degree of competence

and tools to work. gether

of working

projects

trol, and so forth. In any case, it is important to build rewards

in the problem-solving

we have

tell managers

them for doing so because

of a concurrent

eleand

involved

Frequently,

QWL

punishing

have tended to involve some significant ment of training, both in the theory cess and in some of the elements

with little meas-

organizations

or create

plicitly

that it re-

of time, effort, energy,

it is important

not be limited

that QWL

to certain

groups

in

the organization.

When only certain levels in

the organization

or certain

ployees cause When

are involved,

of em-

often fail be-

a “we/they” relationship develops. lower-level employees are involved

but management

isn’t, middle

often resists and blocks tiated

groups

projects

by these groups.

groups or workers

management

changes When

are involved

that are inisome

work

and others at

the same organization

level are not, counter-

productive

rivalry

intergroup

often appears,

ence, however, if a project is successful, the individual participants who see the organiza-

and it becomes difficult structures and learnings

tion gaining from their ideas will ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” Therefore, in structuring projects, one needs to consider how the potential gains of the project can be

ganization. Even though it may be difficult to start everywhere in an organization at once,

it is possible

and

to transfer the new to the rest of the or-

important

shared with the participants, both as an equitable distribution of the gains and as a

communicate

device for motivating people participate in the process.

show a commitment to implementing new practices organizationwide.

to continue

to

to put

structures in place at startup that will quickly allow everyone to be involved, that will what is occurring

and that will the

On the other hand, the gains may not come quickly, and the concern may be how to motivate people early on. Here, particular concern is with management middle management, may hesitate to become

the -

in particular-that involved in QWL ac-

CONCLUSIONS

Our discussion so far suggests that there are three major components of QWL efforts that

29

must be managed successful. projects

well for a program

to be

One factor is the development

at different

levels-concerted,

of

struc-

tured efforts to engage in organizational problem solving or the improvement of the organizational system,

environment,

or the structure

participative

means.

we’ve mentioned are important.

and

rewards

of work

through

Projects

and those concerted

going

There

observable

to manage

must

efforts

to say that in a “QWL”

be tangible,

actions

aimed

specific,

volves changes organizational

in management arrangements.

necessary

for two reasons.

necessary

to change

tures,

measures,

to encourage Secondly,

support

inand are

of struc-

and so forth, QWL

projects. to look

in themselves for QWL;

are needed.

viability

of the change.

If senior

changes will take place, or be institutionalized. Thus, for a QWL to be credible to all members of the organization, the senior management group must have some specific,

30

are limited

to only one or two of

these areas. we are pleased

and grati-

fied by the increasing attention that is being paid to the nature-of-work organizations, to the quality-of-management

practices,

and to

the impact that those factors have on individuals. This focus on organizations, the nature

of organizational

life, the quality

behavior,

of

and the fundamenis a very posi-

tive focus and one that has great potential for enhancing

both

organizational

mance and the quality viduals hope QWL,

experience. that

We end by expressing

whatever

nothing

perfor-

of work life that indihappens

happens

to the

the term

to cause us to lose

this focus.

CD

As with any ma-

management takes a stance of, “Do what I say-not what I do,” credibility is lost, and in the long term, it is doubtful whether

tangible

each when

manage-

jor change, the activities of the organization’s leadership become critical in determining the ultimate

support

seem to be guaranteed

as fac-

in rewards systems to build in gain changes in measurement to promote

ment behavior

activities

The elements

at

for example,

participation and problem solving. Third, changes in senior

Failures

and ideally

tal health of our organizations

it may be

types

be important

changes

tors that are critical changes sharing,

First,

various

goal systems, and

it may

those various

systems They

other.

organizational

at changing

the way in which work is done. The second area of activity

an organization.

Overall,

of the types

It is not enough

we are now manner.

the

change within

are interdependent

part in it. Most important, our experience indicates that all three of these elements are important for the success of a major QWL

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY For an early introduction to quality of work life, see L. E. Davis and A. B. Cherns’s (eds.), The Quality of Working Life, Vols. I and II (Free Press, 197.5) and Work in America (MIT Press, 1973). Other important readings include J. Richard Hackman and Lloyd Suttle’s Improving Life at Work: Behavioral Science Approaches to Organizational Change (Goodyear Publishing Co., 1977), Edward E. Lawler’s ‘The New Plant Revolution” (Organizational Dynamics, Winter 1978), and Lawler’s “Strategies for Improving the Quality of Work Life” (American Psychologist, May 1982).