Changing Technology and The Supervisor

  • K. E. Thurley


Several writers have suggested that the introduction of automation or technically complex production systems (utilizing advance programming of machine operations and feed-back mechanisms for automatic self-control and self-regulation, will drastically change the roles of foremen. The more extreme predict the elimination of the need for production supervisors altogether. Two relatively moderate examples of such predictions can be given here:

While the exact position varies widely, it is usually true to say that automation reduces the number of workers supervised by a given foreman, so that this side of his function diminishes in importance. But a more fundamental change stems from the nature of the work being supervised. The worker need no longer exert continuous physical effort to maintain output; instead he monitors a continuous process and, in doing so, seems to acquire a sense of responsibility towards the plant itself and an attitude of mind quite different from that of the semi-skilled worker in mass-production work. He is largely self-supervising, but there is a good deal of indirect supervision as he is in close touch with management, reporting the plant’s behaviour and so on. So the need for direct supervision of his work is very much reduced.


Production System Technical Change Shop Floor Production Situation Supervisory System 
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Copyright information

© International Institute for Labour Studies 1966

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  • K. E. Thurley

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