While there has been much conjecture as to the implications of TQM for shopfloor workers, there have been relatively few studies that have investigated shopfloor responses to TQM via in‐depth interviews. Focuses on shopfloor workers who might have been expected to conform to the “solidaristic” stereotype in terms of their orientation to work, because they had traditionally used the group as a source of power against the employer. The expectation was that they would resist any involvement in TQM. The initial response was positive and the paper seeks to explore this finding. It suggests that shopfloor orientations to work within the male‐dominated, well‐paid, unionised manufacturing sector may have moved from an emphasis on collective conflict towards “collective instrumentalism”, which encompasses a shift away from overt conflict, towards uneasy patterns of co‐operation.
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