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Managerial resistance to high performance workplace practices

The Transformation of Work

ISBN: 978-0-76230-766-1, eISBN: 978-1-84950-097-5

Publication date: 14 March 2001


This study examines the reasons behind managerial resistance to change, particularly in instances where innovative work practices have been imposed. An increased need for firms to develop flexible production systems, become quality oriented and manufacture more quickly has resulted in work re-organization. This shift from Fordism to a form of mass customization has involved not only technological and organizational changes in the workplace, but has also restructured much of managerial work. Instead of a pre-occupation with operational efficiency, managers are now required to coordinate activities designed to promote a more effective use of human resources. Drawing evidence from case studies, we describe the responses by managers to these changes in an industry undergoing intense competitive pressure. Initial implementation of new practices is often followed by modification to those practices that protect managerial interests. It becomes apparent that what is rational for the firm often might be irrational for managers, hence the reason why many changes are resisted by managers. We conclude with a discussion of ambiguous evaluation procedures that further compound managerial uncertainty as unprecedented economic volatility continues to plague firms in this industry.


Taplin, I.M. (2001), "Managerial resistance to high performance workplace practices", Vallas, S. (Ed.) The Transformation of Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 1-24.



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Copyright © 2001, Emerald Group Publishing Limited