What does it take for an industrial employee to translate managerial ideas?

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This paper explores what is needed for skilled and semi-skilled workers to be able to engage in the transformation of managerial ideas when they are adopted in contemporary industrial organizations. The paper is founded on a project conducted in 2010-11, Skilled workers meeting production - and management concepts (Clematide, Hagedorn-Rasmussen & Stahl). Lean and Performance management were chosen as examples of managerial ideas intended for moving business, work and production processes in directions that increase quality, performance and efficiency. The paper argues that managerial ideas, although often presented as objectified heuristics, are not always rigid. They undergo processes of translation within the organizational setting in which they are introduced.

Based on a literature study the paper identify distinct articulations of Lean and Performance management within the industrial context. Partly based on this, a qualitative analysis in six industrial companies was conducted. We explored the translation of Lean and Performance management.

Our study has shown great variance in the translation of the managerial ideas. Very few examples demonstrate how skilled and semi-skilled production workers are granted no room for contribution to the detailed knowledge. In other cases, we have experienced how skilled and semi-skilled employees bring different skills into the translation of the ideas and transform unilateral top-down processes into participatory design processes. The necessary skills for being able to participate in processes of translations are numerous, but vary and are contextual dependent.
Original languageDanish
JournalNFF Conference proceedings
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event22nd Nordic Academy of Management Conference 2013 - University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 21 Aug 201323 Aug 2013
Conference number: 22


Conference22nd Nordic Academy of Management Conference 2013
LocationUniversity of Iceland
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