After many years of controversy and uncertainty, participative management and work design issues are becoming the focus of attention in the 1990s. There is ample evidence to suggest that the success of some foreign and domestic manufacturers may be attributed to the management of their human resources. This article discusses the trends that are encouraging the reassessment of the traditional and widely applied principles of job design, which makes the case for organizing manufacturing jobs into groups. Based on a normative model proposed by Hackman and on the workgroup activities in the United States, Japan, and Sweden, this article evaluates the feasibility of adopting groups in a manufacturing setting and identifies the potential obstacles to their adoption. Many of the conditions required for the success of groups can be created through deliberate managerial decisions.
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