The purpose of this paper is to present the research findings of a longitudinal case study of a Brazilian company which changed its work system from a highly Taylorist to a high‐performance work system (HPWS) form of organization. The paper presents the organizational processes linked to these changes and discusses their implications for manager‐worker relations.
Longitudinal qualitative research, based on 89 interviews with 62 informants, and conducted over a period of eight years.
In seeking to implement HPWS, firms need to pool and recombine different sources of expertise to succeed. At this stage, the balance of power between different organizational actors starts to shift towards greater mutual dependence, thus reducing power imbalances. The paper also discusses the gradual development of HPWSs in an emerging market economy.
The research is based on a single case study, which limits the potential for generalization, but it also provides a basis for a more detailed study of the challenges faced by organizational actors when firms move towards HPWSs.
A key distinguishing characteristic of the new managerial model – the intense and ongoing collaboration with its labor force at different levels that the firm needs – has become essential.
There are very few studies in the literature dealing with HPWSs in Brazil and their implications for employee relations.
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