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Flexibility on whose terms?

Flexibility on whose terms? Purpose – As part of an ongoing project on worker well‐being, this paper aims to examine the application of flexible work arrangements through the experiences of core workers in a small, European‐owned, New Zealand manufacturing firm. Design/methodology/approach – A participatory action research approach is taken. Findings – The research reveals that flexible employment arrangements utilised in this firm did not afford protection to core workers as theory suggests. Both core and peripheral workers were exposed to pressure primarily to extend their hours of work and to reduce their expectations regarding remuneration. Production level increases were not reflected in increases in numbers of core workers; in fact perceived job security was low. Core workers felt pressure to work extended hours out of their commitment to the firm, each other, and to maintain their own employment. Practical implications – The use of more democratic processes inherent in action research oriented at workplace well‐being are shown to have had some value toward enhancing worker well‐being. Originality/value – The paper demonstrates that the participative project placed pressure upon management and that it had the potential to redress a power imbalance within the employment relationship. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Organizational Change Management Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0953-4814
DOI
10.1108/09534810610668346
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – As part of an ongoing project on worker well‐being, this paper aims to examine the application of flexible work arrangements through the experiences of core workers in a small, European‐owned, New Zealand manufacturing firm. Design/methodology/approach – A participatory action research approach is taken. Findings – The research reveals that flexible employment arrangements utilised in this firm did not afford protection to core workers as theory suggests. Both core and peripheral workers were exposed to pressure primarily to extend their hours of work and to reduce their expectations regarding remuneration. Production level increases were not reflected in increases in numbers of core workers; in fact perceived job security was low. Core workers felt pressure to work extended hours out of their commitment to the firm, each other, and to maintain their own employment. Practical implications – The use of more democratic processes inherent in action research oriented at workplace well‐being are shown to have had some value toward enhancing worker well‐being. Originality/value – The paper demonstrates that the participative project placed pressure upon management and that it had the potential to redress a power imbalance within the employment relationship.

Journal

Journal of Organizational Change ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: May 1, 2006

Keywords: Flexibility; Flexible labour; Labour utilization; Occupational health and safety; New Zealand

References

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